Larson, Sanders Introduce Bill to Improve and Restore Social Security Service
WASHINGTON, DC - Ranking Member of the Ways & Means Social Security Subcommittee Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) introduced the Social Security Administration Fairness Act (H.R. 6251/3147) to give the Social Security Administration the funds necessary to restore timely service to beneficiaries. In addition to Larson and Sanders, they were joined by over 20 of their House colleagues and 6 Senators.
Social Security has played a fundamental role in the lives of hundreds of millions of hardworking Americans; however, since 1970, funding to administer Social Security programs has decreased 34 percent per beneficiary, adjusting for inflation. The Social Security Administration’s budget has declined 9 percent since 2010, while the number of beneficiaries has gone up more than 15 percent. This has resulted in the loss of more than 10,000 employees, as well as the closure of all rural contact centers and more than 10 percent of all field offices nationwide. These funding cuts have had an unconscionable human cost – last year alone, 10,000 people died and thousands more lost their homes or declared bankruptcy while waiting on a disability decision.
“In order to serve its beneficiaries, the Social Security Administration needs an operational budget that keeps up with the demands the program is facing. Consider that 10,000 Baby Boomers become eligible for Social Security a day and that for the past decade, Social Security’s budget has remained severely underfunded. These are benefits that American workers have paid for and earned with every paycheck – they have earned the right to better service. I applaud Senator Sanders for his leadership and for our work together to ensure Social Security offices remain open and responsive to its beneficiaries, and that cruel waiting periods for the severely disabled are eliminated,” said Larson.
“Social Security is the most successful government program ever, but it can’t work for Vermonters if it doesn’t have adequate staff to answer the phones, meet with applicants and process claims. We must reject Republicans’ efforts to cut and privatize Social Security, and instead ensure that all seniors and people with disabilities receive the benefits they have earned and deserve in a timely manner,” Sanders said.
The bill would set the Social Security’s administrative funding at 1.5 percent of overall benefit payments, eliminate the five-month waiting period for approved Social Security disability recipients and the two-year waiting period for disability beneficiaries to qualify to receive Medicare, and implement a moratorium on all closures of field offices and contact stations.
The legislation was endorsed by AFGE, AFL-CIO, Alliance for Retired Americans, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, Medicare Rights Center, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, National Council of Social Security Management Associations, National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, Social Security Works, Special Needs Alliance, Strengthen Social Security Coalition and The Arc.