Yesterday a legal assistant at my firm made this note in our database "Faxed ______ DO [District Office] re: clt being paid. TC _______ DO. On hold 25 min; they just are not answering their phone." The Legal Assistant was trying to contact that DO regarding a client whose Supplemental Security Income claim was approved by an Administrative Law Judge on October 26. So far the client has received no money. If you're familiar with the way these things are supposed to work, this shouldn't be happening. The benefits should have been paid at least a couple of weeks ago. The client is upset. We're trying to get the District Office moving but we can't get them on the phone and they don't respond to faxes. Why is this happening? It's simple. Lack of an adequate staff at that District Office. People who work at Social Security field offices aren't perfect but they typically like to help people. They get frustrated when the best they can do is to give lousy service.
If you aren't involved directly with Social Security field offices, the whole subject of Social Security's operating budget must seem so abstract. A hiring freeze and no overtime at Social Security -- what's the big deal? No one's getting fired. It's a big deal to this lady. She's been approved. She can't get paid. Will her benefits get implemented before Christmas? I wouldn't bet on it. By the way, she's on home oxygen. How many more Christmases will she see?