Monday, March 25, 2013

Congresswoman DeLauro Criticizes Lack of Funding for SSA

Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes Greater New Haven, is speaking out against the lack of funding that the Social Security Administration has received over the past two years.  DeLauro, a senior democrat on the Labor Health and Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees Social Security Disability programs, made these statements at the subcommittee's hearing on March 14, 2013. 
As a Connecticut Social Security Disability Lawyer who deals with the SSA on a daily basis, I must a give a pat on the back to the Third District Congresswoman.  I am glad to see her defending our Social Security programs with tenacity.  Unfortunately, over the past few years many of our political leaders have chosen to make a scapegoat out of Social Security recipients who receive, on an average, a mere $1,000.00 a month.
From my perspective, as a Social Security Disability Lawyer, DeLauro's remarks are important because she highlighted that lack of adequate customer service at the local field offices and the increasing backlog of pending disability applications.
"Right now, people are waiting desperately for resources they deserve, earned, and need to get by. But with these deep cuts, fewer applications will be processed, backlogs will grow, more erroneous payments will be made, and people will have to wait even longer in offices, or to have their phone calls answered.  The Social Security Administration is already understaffed, and these cuts will only make things worse. Due to limited resources, the Social Security Administration has already taken measures such as curbing hiring and closing offices."  --said the Congresswoman.
In addition, she stated that "funding over the past two fiscal years for routine operations has been essentially flat.  In each of these years the funding level provided was below the President’s request by $924 million, or 8 percent." Moreover, she pointed out the sequestration budget cuts "will only make these problems worse". 
I'm in the front lines of this terrible tragedy.  As a Connecticut Social Security Lawyer, I see everyday the horrible mistakes that are made by the understaffed and overworked employees of the Social Security Administration.  For example, today a client who went to the Hartford Social Security Field Office experienced an inexplicable mishap.  She is a fifty year old Hispanic lady who speaks no English and suffers from intellectual disabilities and mental illness.  She went the Field Office to pick up some  paperwork regarding her case and then walked back and brought it to my office.  When she walked up to my desk and showed me the paperwork, I noticed that the paperwork was in someone else's name and had a different social security number.  The field office had given her the paperwork for another person!  And, not only did the paperwork contain someone else's social security number, it also contained financial information regarding social security payments! 
So much for reducing spending through budget cuts.  The particular mistake made this morning by the Hartford Field Office could cost taxpayers money by giving out confidential information.  Problems such as the one that I saw today invite identity theft and fraud, and undermine the integrity of our Social Security programs.