WASHINGTON, January 13 – Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch wrote a letter to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul calling on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to hire more staff for Vermont Field offices.
Social Security is the most successful federal program in the country but funding cuts have curtailed its ability to help Vermonters and other Americans. In their letter, the Vermont delegation noted that since 2010, Vermont has lost almost a quarter of its Social Security field office staff because of national cuts to SSA’s operating budget. Vermont has suffered from the highest rate of SSA field staff losses in all of New England, resulting in longer wait times for claims, appeals, and even routine inquiries.
The letter also noted that “drastic cuts to the administration of the program are forcing fewer workers to do more work with fewer resources. The results can be deadly. The Washington Post reported that 10,000 people died while waiting for a decision on their disability claim in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 alone.”
Despite this alarming statistic, SSA currently has a partial hiring freeze in place and has lost around 4,000 employees each year for the past four years. They recently announced the hiring of over 1,000 new workers for the national 800 help number and for processing centers, but no new hires have been announced for the field offices that Vermont residents and other Americans rely on for assistance.
In the recently passed FY2020 spending bill, Social Security received an extra $100 million to hire more frontline staff.
To read a copy of the letter, click here.