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Boyle Calls on Social Security Administration to Correct Dangerous Disability Hearings Backlog

January 8, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to an article published this weekend in the Philadelphia Inquirer detailing the unconscionable delays faced by millions of Americans awaiting hearings with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine their eligibility to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), today Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13) led a letter joined by Members of Congress throughout the region demanding answers and requesting a briefing with SSA leadership. SSI is a federal income supplement program designed to assist elderly, blind, and disabled individuals who have little or no income, but a preliminary judicial determination of eligibility by the SAA is first required. In Philadelphia alone, over 100,000 individuals receive SSI.
 
According to the Inquirer, over one million individuals are at risk of injury, disability, and death due to a growing backlog of cases waiting on benefit eligibility determination – with some individuals waiting over two years. In the City of Philadelphia alone, according to the Inquirer, more than 10,000 people are caught in the backlog, with similar numbers in South Jersey and the Philadelphia suburbs.
 
The national average for obtaining a hearing from SSA is 591 days from the date of request. In Philadelphia, the average is 26 months, or roughly 780 days. According to the SSA’s own figures, almost 9,000 individuals died last year alone awaiting a SSA benefits determination.
 
Boyle released the following statement after submitting the letter:
 
“It is an outrage that millions of Americans – and thousands in the City of Philadelphia alone where this problem is at its worst nationwide – are suffering and at risk of injury, disability, and death as they await hearings with the Social Security Administration to determine their eligibility for Supplemental Security Income. It is completely unacceptable for any American to wait years for a basic determination about critical, oftentimes life-sustaining benefits.
 
This crisis of bureaucratic inefficiency cannot and will not be tolerated. Today, I organized a letter to the Acting Commissioner of the SSA, joined by Members of Congress throughout our region, to demand answers and request a briefing to finally address the failures that have led to these delays. Americans rely on this program to afford basic necessities in the face of enormous personal difficulty. It is shameful that their request is not handled with the seriousness and basic competency it merits. I am committed to working with my congressional colleagues and the SSA to ensure that this systemic problem is corrected as soon as possible.” 
 
In addition to Boyle, the letter is signed by Reps. Robert A. Brady (PA-01), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Donald Norcross (NJ-01).
 
The full letter is available HERE.