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SSA funding increase coming up for vote

 

co-capitol.jpgLast week, key members of the House of Representatives and Senate met as conferees to reconcile their respective versions of the appropriations bill that includes funding for Social Security Administration – the fiscal year (FY) 2008 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill. The House and Senate conferees agreed to include the Senate version of the appropriation for SSA, which provides $9.871 billion for SSA’s administrative FY 2008 budget. This amount is $275 million above the President’s request and would allow SSA to:

  • Hire about 250 more ALJs.
  • Replace some of the several thousand positions lost in SSA field offices over the past two years.
  • Increase hiring in DDSs to replace a loss of over 800 positions.

While this level of funding is not enough to eliminate the disability claims backlog, without this appropriation, the backlog will continue to increase and SSA service will worsen, as SSA’s staffing drops to its lowest level in over 30 years. This bill is very important to people with disabilities and their families!

The House and Senate are expected to take up the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (L-HHS-ED) appropriations conference report as soon as today, November 6. It may be combined with the Military Construction-VA appropriations bill.

While President Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it is passed by Congress, it is critical that this level of funding is established for SSA as a congressional priority for FY 2008.
The message for your Representative and Senators:

  • Ask for support the Labor-HHS-Education FY 2008 appropriations conference report when it comes up for a vote.
  • SSA needs the level of funding in the bill; it is critical to address the growing disability claims backlog.

Why does SSA need this level of funding?

  • Waiting times at the hearing level are at a record high. [Editor’s Note: As mother of a disabled daughter, I watched my daughter struggle through a nearly FIVE YEAR wait for adjudication of her claim, a time frame that included an additional nine months of waiting for a second hearing when the results of the first were tossed out for ‘judicial error.’ Waiting levels are beyond ‘high’; they are unconscionable.]
  • Individuals waiting for decisions face extreme hardships because of the delays.
  • Access to other key services also has been diminished. Local SSA offices have been threatened with closing or having their hours open to the public reduced.

Your contacting your Congressional delegation today will help move this important legislation forward.

Congresswoman Blackburn’s local number is 931-503-0391.

Senator Corker’s Washington number is 202-224-3344.

Senator Alexander’s Washington number is 202 224 4944.

This post was submitted by Beverly Fisher, a Clarksville attorney “working with people trying to get social security disability.”


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