Mar 21, 2017

Waiting In The Heartland

     From the Kansas City Star:
The tumors and cysts that blinded Barbara Sales in her left eye and, years ago, lodged in her brain have robbed her of far more than her sight and memory. ...
Three seizures forced Sales, 53, a former Lenexa resident, to lose a job she’d hoped to get full time. Her maladies and medications, treatments for a rare genetic disease, have made her short-term memory so faulty that she once drove 100 miles in the wrong direction before realizing her mistake. ...
Despite these difficulties, one question has for four years consumed the thoughts of this college-educated woman who worked full time for 25 years while raising her daughter as a divorced, single mom.
Why is it taking the government so long to decide whether she is eligible to receive Social Security disability?
“This is not right,” Sales said, coming to tears. “This is not what we pay into Social Security for. This is not the American dream. This is certainly not what I went to college for.”
Sales’ situation goes to the heart of problems that have plagued the Social Security Administration for years: Underfunded and overwhelmed, it operates with a workforce that has remained all but flat for more than 20 years in the face of a rising population and an explosion of disability applications. ...
“Eight thousand people died during fiscal year 2016 who were waiting for a (disability) hearing,” [Lisa] Ekman [of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, NOSSCR) said. “That’s 23 people a day, almost one an hour to get a hearing. … We see people who lose their homes. We see people who are evicted. We see people who can’t afford to pay for medications, who become very debilitated while they wait. It creates people who are homeless.” ... 
When fiscal 2017 began in October, the number of first-time claims that had not been processed from the year before stood at more than 560,000, according to the Office of the Inspector General’s semi-annual report to Congress.
The backlog of cases being reconsidered, waiting to be heard by an administrative law judge, ballooned from 700,000 in 2010 to more than 1.1 million cases at the end of June 2016, the report showed.
In that same period, the average processing time it takes to see and get a decision from a judge has stretched from 426 days to more than 530 days. ...

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy“Eight thousand people died during fiscal year 2016 who were waiting for a (disability) hearing,” Ekman said. “That’s 23 people a day, almost one an hour to get a hearing. … We see people who lose their homes. We see people who are evicted. We see people who can’t afford to pay for medications, who become very debilitated while they wait. It creates people who are homeless.”


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpyThree seizures forced Sales, 53, a former Lenexa resident, to lose a job she’d hoped to get full time. Her maladies and medications, treatments for a rare genetic disease, have made her short-term memory so faulty that she once drove 100 miles in the wrong direction before realizing her mistake.


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy
Despite these difficulties, one question has for four years consumed the thoughts of this college-educated woman who worked full time for 25 years while raising her daughter as a divorced, single mom.
Why is it taking the government so long to decide whether she is eligible to receive Social Security disability?
“This is not right,” Sales said, coming to tears. “This is not what we pay into Social Security for. This is not the American dream. This is certainly not what I went to college for.”
Sales’ situation goes to the heart of problems that have plagued the Social Security Administration for years: Underfunded and overwhelmed, it operates with a workforce that has remained all but flat for more than 20 years in the face of a rising population and an explosion of disability applications.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy“Eight thousand people died during fiscal year 2016 who were waiting for a (disability) hearing,” Ekman said. “That’s 23 people a day, almost one an hour to get a hearing. … We see people who lose their homes. We see people who are evicted. We see people who can’t afford to pay for medications, who become very debilitated while they wait. It creates people who are homeless.”


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy“Eight thousand people died during fiscal year 2016 who were waiting for a (disability) hearing,” Ekman said. “That’s 23 people a day, almost one an hour to get a hearing. … We see people who lose their homes. We see people who are evicted. We see people who can’t afford to pay for medications, who become very debilitated while they wait. It creates people who are homeless.”


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article139229938.html#storylink=cpy

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very sad, but unfortunately very typical, situation. I have a feeling that more stories like this will be hitting the papers as the backlogs continue to grow.

Anonymous said...

Drove 100 miles? Sounds not disabled to me. /Sarcasm

Anonymous said...

She went to college to file for disability?

“This is not right,” Sales said, coming to tears. “This is not what we pay into Social Security for. This is not the American dream. This is certainly not what I went to college for.”

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Anonymous said...

Dead horse beat yet again.

Anonymous said...

at least they point out our staff has been flat for decades, which isn't even quite right. Of course, staffing is actually markedly lower over the past few decades--we had > 80,000 employees in the '90s and have barely 60,000 now, with way more work to do thanks to Boomers and increased disability filings...

There is no magic bullet, there is no huge base of lazy employees not doing work, there is no technology that will magically increase our productivity by significant amounts. We. Need. More. Money. To. Hire. More. People. PERIOD.

Either we get more budget to hire more, or either: 1) backlogs for various workloads grow; or, 2) quality/service go through the floor.

Anonymous said...

4:07

I agree with your points, but even with a larger budget it will take a year or two of training and on-the-job work to get people up to speed and be competent/proficient employees. It's a sad state of affairs at the minute and likely will only get worse as the budget continues to stay where it is.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, chanting their smaller government mantra, Republicans are not going to vote for adequate funding for staff at SSA (perhaps with the exception of people to do more CDRs). They have refused to do so for a long time. Want to fix that? Vote out your Republican congressional representatives in the next election.

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