Social Security backlog needs funding

Marketplace Staff Apr 23, 2008


Renita Jablonski: Then there’s the backlog for Social Security benefits. The average wait for a case hearing is now over 16 months. Today, some members of Congress will consider the President’s request for an extra $600 million to hire more judges and support staff. John Dimsdale has more.

John Dimsdale: Three-quarters of a million Americans are in line for a hearing on their Social Security disability benefits. Some have had to wait three years for benefits that average $860 a month. Richard Warsinskey, the district manager of the Cleveland Social Security Field Office, says the President’s budget request is welcome.

Richard Warsinskey: It won’t take care of the problem this year, because the backlog is so large and the agency has been so underfunded in past years. But it’s a good step.

Some congressional Democrats are pushing for an additional $240 million. That would eliminate the backlog a year earlier — by 2012. But field manager Warsinskey says baby boomers beginning to file for regular Social Security benefits may be creating another backup.

Warsinskey: We get so many calls coming in that the busy rate when you call a local field office is over 50 percent.

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue says reducing the disability backlog is a moral imperative.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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