Sen. Charles Schumer told a crowd of 130 people at the Glenville Senior Center that he will use his clout as majority leader to ensure increased funding for Social Security to improve service at field offices and particularly to speed up handling of disability claims.
“I am calling on the Social Security administration to put Albany and the Capital Region at the top of their list and get the money to us ASAP,” the Democratic senator said to applause Monday at the center where he was joined by GOP Supervisor Chris Koetzle and an AARP representative. “Sometimes you get money in a budget and it sits on someone’s desk for a very long time. We don’t want to happen particularly given that our backlog is worse than most other places.”
He told the crowd that on average a person with a Social Security question or problem has to wait 20 minutes over the phone for assistance in the Capital Region. He said disability is even worse.
“If you’re disabled, to get disability, you’ll have to wait and wait and wait to get your benefits or to get something corrected,” he said, noting that last year 10,000 people died while waiting for a disability appeal determination.
Schumer said the new recently adopted federal budget includes about $480 million more in the Social Security budget with the increased funding for hiring more field office employees working increased hours, upgrading technology of computer systems and $100 million dedicated to resolving disability hearings faster.
Schumer said over the years the number of Social Security employees has dwindled leading to huge backlogs that are getting worse because of retiring baby boomers.
There are 10,000 new people retiring every day “putting an even greater strain on these offices that we need to help us,” he said.
“The cuts are felt from one end of New York to the other, people are afraid, and sometimes people on the other end of the phone because they have some many other cases aren’t as courteous or as nice and not giving you the attention you need,” said Schumer.
Koetzle said that backlog hurts seniors in Glenville and he is pleased Schumer is addressing the issue.
“Anything they can do in Washington, the senator, the president, the Congress, is good for the seniors, and I support that, ” the supervisor said.