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Social Security Administration Disability Backlog Lowered

Author: Senator Tom Harkin

Published: 2009-10-03

Synopsis and Key Points:

Senator Tom Harkin commended Social Security Administration for ending year with fewer disability hearings.

Main Digest

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today commended the Social Security Administration (SSA) for ending the year with fewer disability hearings pending than in the prior year for the first time since 1999.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today commended the Social Security Administration (SSA) for ending the year with fewer disability hearings pending than in the prior year for the first time since 1999.

This reduction, Harkin said, is due in large part to a influx in funding. Harkin is a long-time advocate for individuals with disabilities and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Social Security Administration's (SSA) administrative budget.

"For over a decade, the Social Security Administration's backlog in disability claims was far too high and growing, so I commend the agency for reducing this number. For those living with disabilities, waiting for benefits is a long, difficult process," Harkin said. "I expect the SSA to continue to aggressively tackle this problem in order to eliminate this backlog completely, and will continue my work to ensure that the agency has the resources in order to do so."

As Chairman of the Senate's Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Harkin has provided substantial increases in funding to help SSA reduce the backlog in disability claims and improve SSA's other core services. The 2008 appropriations bill provided $9.7 billion for SSA's administrative budget, $150 million more than requested by the President and $447 million more than the 2007 level. In 2009, Senator Harkin included $10.5 billion for SSA's administrative budget, $126.5 million more than requested by the President and $708.9 million more than the 2008 level. In addition, given the dramatic increases in workloads caused by the economic recession, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included an additional $500 million for SSA for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 to help process rising disability claims and other workloads.

Earlier this year, Harkin requested a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the SSA's efforts to eliminate the backlog of disability claims at the hearing level. On September 9, 2009, the GAO concluded that the SSA's plan should help the agency reduce its hearings-level backlog.

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