An infusion of cash from Congress and President Bush will help the Social Security Administration cut into the months-long backlog for disability benefits for thousands of Americans, according to federal officials.
However, advocates said a one-time budget increase won’t be enough to solve the problem, and they urged Congress to give the agency another cash infusion to battle the long waits faced by those seeking disability benefits.
There were 8,936,940 people receiving an average of $859.82 in monthly disability benefits in January, according to agency figures. But by the end of the month, another 751,767 disability cases were waiting for a hearing decision, Social Security officials said, leading to average wait times of 499 days – about 16+ months.
The number of people waiting includes 91,000 veterans, with nearly 300,000 of those appeals a year old, said Richard Warsinskey of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations, Inc.