Social Security, as a program, consists of two important elements. There are the benefit payments, which are paid to those who reach retirement age, who meet the requirements for Supplemental Security Income benefits, or become disabled and receive disability benefits. These are all funded by various tax payment.
The second element of the program is the administration, which collects the taxes, tracks the age of workers and make the evaluation of those who apply for disability benefits. Given the overall size of the Social Security program, the resources required administering these benefits are considerable.
However, in a recent bill, the House Republicans proposed a cut of $722 million from the administration's budget request. This would become a real problem for recipients, as the Social Security Administration has warned it would result in a furlough of two weeks for all employees within the agency, the closing of field offices and a hiring freeze.
The effects of such cuts would add weeks or months to the current delays because people do not stop aging or becoming disabled simply because politicians don't want to adequately fund the agency. The work would continue to pile up and for those waiting for a disability hearing, the existing delay of 500 days would likely increase.
The hiring freeze would also mean fewer administrative law judges, who are necessary for those appeals and hearings, which would eventually create even longer waits for a result. Delays for hearings are particularly difficult for applicants, as being disabled and out of work, their income, if any, may be severely limited and paying necessary living expenses can become critical.
There is no excuse for such a ridiculous budget proposal. SSA has seen the number of people using its services increase by 12 percent, yet in the last six years, its budget has been reduced by 10 percent accounting for inflation.
This budget reinforces that disability applicants will want to submit as complete and comprehensive an application as possible and if your application is denied, seek help with appeals as soon as possible.