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Aug 7, 2007

Dramatic Story From Milwaukee

This is one of the more dramatic stories on Social Security's backlogs. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Disabled by an enlarged heart and unable to work, welder David Olson, 54, waited almost two years to be approved for Social Security disability payments. In July, he was found dead in his recliner at his Montana home.

His sister, Nancy Olson, 53, of Milwaukee, fears help might come too late for her, as well. She is on continuous oxygen because of a rare lung disease caused by inhaling microscopic spores of a fungus.

Olson is part of a nationwide backlog of more than 749,000 seriously ill people who say they are unable to work and are awaiting a decision on disability payments. She's been waiting almost two years. ...

The situation is acute in Milwaukee and getting worse. Last month, 10,956 people were waiting for a hearing to determine whether they qualify for the benefit. That's up about 19% since September 2005 and a historic high, according to records obtained by the Journal Sentinel.

The Milwaukee Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, where the hearings are held, is also well above the national average in the number of days it takes to process a case. In July, the national average was 528 days, and in Milwaukee, the average was 651 days.

"It's horrible," said U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means subcommittee that oversees the Social Security Administration. "No doubt about it, this is a crisis."

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