Joe Davidson reports for the Washington Post on Trump’s plan for Social Security. And, despite less service and longer waits at Social Security today because Congress has kept it from spending its own money, Davidson says things are likely to get worse before they get better. Congress should step up and fully fund Social Security.
President Trump is proposing a Social Security budget for fiscal year 2019 that would mean fewer staff and longer waits at Social Security’s offices as well as on the phone. If there’s any good news, it is that Trump cannot mess with Social Security benefits, at least in his budget.
Although the cost of administering Social Security benefits comes out of the Social Security Trust Fund, for the last few years Congress has been refusing to fully fund these costs. Trump now wants the equivalent of nearly 1,000 fewer fulltime workers in 2019 than this year. And, it should not go unsaid that, with the population aging, each year more than 3.5 million people become eligible for Social Security.
Because of inadequate staffing, there was a 627-day wait for disability applicants’ hearings in 2017. The wait to speak to someone from Social Security on the phone is now 12 minutes, up from three minutes in 2010. The wait at the Social Security offices easily can be more than one hour.
Trump’s Social Security Administration suggests that it can deliver services with less money, by expanding its online service options, among other things. One older man testified at a January 2018 Senate briefing that it took three visits for his 92-year old neighbor to get assistance–the lines were so long, there were no chairs to sit in. And, like many 80 and 90 year olds, he is not computer literate.
More than a million people with disabilities are waiting months and months–typically nearly two years–for their Social Security determinations. Many are waiting so long to be awarded Social Security benefits that they are left to deplete their savings, without any resources.
If you believe that Congress should expand Social Security benefits and fully fund the Social Security Administration, please sign this petition.
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