Waiting In Florida
Some excerpts from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Heather Noble's heart is so weak the doctors tell her not to laugh too hard. She had a stroke during heart surgery, and now speaks with a slur and can't recall her baby's name. Her doctors say she can't work.Why is Judge Cristaudo saying things are getting better? He knows that is not true. The backlogs are getting worse. Maybe they are getting worse at a slower rate than the used to, but that does not mean that things are getting better. There is an election campaign going on. Pretending things are getting better when they are getting worse is the sort of thing one expects from a politician, but not from a civil servant.
Two years later, the former UPS worker and mother of two from North Lauderdale has become destitute while waiting for Social Security to decide whether she qualifies for disability benefits. Noble, 41, is trapped in a growing backlog of 750,000 unresolved disability cases — about 8,100 in South Florida and 37,500 in the state. Some injured and ill people have become homeless or bankrupt while waiting for rulings. ...
Over two years, Social Security has resolved all 200,000 cases that are more than 900 days old. Officials hope to bring the backlog to a manageable 430,000 by 2013, said Frank Cristaudo, chief administrative law judge for the agency.
"It will take a while," Cristaudo said. "Things are getting a little better." ...
Nora Staum, a Coral Springs disability attorney, said one client was dropped from a local kidney transplant list because he had no income or medical coverage until Social Security declared him disabled. Another family that needed an oxygen machine but couldn't pay their electric bill came within a day of losing power.
"The system is failing people who need it the most," said Lyle Lieberman, a South Florida attorney and former president of the trade group National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives.