Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) knows the social security system is broken and promises to make things better. His constituents in up-state New York wait an average of 522 days—nearly two years—for social security disability benefits. For someone out-of-work and in desperate need of assistance to just live from day-to-day this is disastrous.
The social security disability program began in 1956, and anyone who has worked 5 out of the last ten years can apply for benefits. Currently there is a backlog of 730,000 disability cases waiting for a hearing alone. Each week field offices handle 858,000 visits and 1.3 million business-related phone calls. Future projections say that the situation will only become worse. To make matters worse in the last 17 months approximately 2,000 field office employees have left the agency without being replaced.
According to the National Council of Social Security Management Associations the funds for the Social Security Administration for 2006 were reduced by $300 million and in 2007 will be reduced by another $200 million. The Social Security Administration requested a $10.44 billion budget for 2008. President George W. Bush’s budget fell short of that request by nearly $1 billion and will provide only $9.5 billion. According to Sen. Schumer the underfunding will cut an additional 4,000 positions from the agency and promises to create longer approval waiting periods. The New York senator would like to see the $1 billion President Bush removed from the Social Security Administration’s budget reinstated.