Congress Considers Significant Cuts to Social Security’s Operating Budget, Threatening to Worsen Circumstances for the Record 1.1 Million Disabled Americans Currently Waiting for a Hearing

Today, an all-time high of over 1.1 million Americans are waiting an average of 582 days to have hearings and receive decisions on their Social Security claims, including disability benefits, hearings on retirement or survivor’s claims, and overpayments. This backlog exists because Social Security’s operating budget has been cut by over 10 percent since 2010, while workloads have increased as baby boomers age. Most Social Security disability claimants have little to no income while they wait for a hearing.

Now, Congress is considering even more drastic reductions in service. The House of Representatives’ appropriations plan would cut Social Security’s operating budget by over $250 million in 2017. Under the House plan, the Social Security Administration would need to close all its offices for two weeks, since all employees would be furloughed. A hiring freeze would lead to longer wait times and delays in all parts of our Social Security retirement, survivors’, and disability system. The Senate appropriations plan provides slightly more funding, but still fails to address many of SSA’s critical needs. Congress must pass a spending plan by the end of Fiscal Year 2016, which ends at midnight on Friday, September 30. Such a plan could resemble the House or Senate appropriation amounts, continue SSA’s current funding level through a Continuing Resolution, or choose a different funding amount.

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) opposes these devastating cuts. As a network of attorneys and advocates who represent people with disabilities in their SSDI and SSI claims, NOSSCR urges Congress to fully fund the Social Security Administration’s operating budget, at the levels requested in President Obama’s 2017 budget.

“575 days is far too long for our Social Security Administration to leave people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Barbara Silverstone, Executive Director, NOSSCR. “Americans face financial ruin and worsening health the longer they wait. We cannot afford a Social Security Administration that is underfunded and understaffed.” 

To request an interview with a NOSSCR spokesperson, contact Maria Myotte at or 720-352-6153.

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About the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) NOSSCR, a specialized bar association for attorneys and other advocates who represent people with disabilities, has been a pioneer in legal continuing education and public policy advocacy since 1979. Our members represent Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income claimants through the adjudication process, advocating for the income rights of people with disabilities. NOSSCR is a non-partisan organization.

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