Former (and probably future) Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has recently introduced a bill optimistically entitled the Social Security Administration Fairness Act that proposes to touch on some of my chief areas concern that I have blogged about in the past where the agency often struggles to fulfill its mandate.
What Would the Social Security Administration Fairness Act Do?
First off, it would set the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) minimum funding number at 1.5 percent per beneficiary, which would be a substantial improvement over the current figure of 1.3 percent. According to Sen. Sanders, the agency’s funding has dropped some 34 percent per beneficiary since the 1970s, equating to that 1.3 percent figure per beneficiary number. Now, that guaranteed .2% of additional funding may not look impressive, but if you were to apply it to last year’s expenditure of $952.5 billion, you are starting to talk about some real money.
If the proposal eventually succeeds and becomes the law of the land, still a big if at this point, it would also address one of my frequent pet peeves I often encounter in my SSA practice — the extraordinary amount of time it takes the agency to work through DIB applications. Namely, it would eliminate the current 5-month waiting period DIB recipients have to endure after being approved for benefits before receiving their monthly monetary stipend and also eliminate the one-year waiting period before their Medicare coverage kicks in.
Finally, it would work to keep SSA field offices open. Currently the agency has an overall staff size of about 60,000, a fraction of which work at the local level in some of the 1,230 field offices nationwide. Those are the offices you can visit in person to get SSA issues addressed personally. One of the probably apocryphal stories I’ve heard over the years (often from SSA employees themselves) is that the SSA now employees fewer people than it did in the seventies.
To this point, Sen. Sanders claims the SSA has lost more than 10,000 employees since 2010, forcing the closure of some 10 percent of those field offices, which is a significant contributor to the delay in processing all claims. The field offices I deal with have also occasionally and permanently reduced the work hours in which you can contact them.
If Sen. Sander’s proposal actually fixes any one of these issues it would be a great improvement over the current state of affairs.
If you or your child have been denied SSA disability benefits or suffer from a severe impairment that is expected to last for more than twelve months and that prevents you from doing any of your past or other work or is causing developmental delay in your child, please contact our office nearest to you to set up a free consultation appointment to discuss your situation.
James Ezzell is an attorney at the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Huntsville, Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama, and a Juris Doctorate from the Mississippi College School of Law. James prides himself in working and winning SSA Disability cases for people truly in need of his help. Read his full bio here.