July 30,2009

Baucus Statement on Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Funding Bill


 To: Reporters and Editors

From: Dan Virkstis for Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D?Mont.)

Re: Sen. Baucus statement on Senate Appropriations subcommittee funding bill

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today hailed a decision by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and by the full Senate Appropriations Committee, to include in their FY 2010 funding bill the President’s request of approximately $11.4 billion for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) administrative expenses. In a June 26, 2009 letter to Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-NB) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS), Senator Baucus requested that the FY 2010 funding bill include the President’s full request.

From Chairman Baucus:

“I am extremely pleased that Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Cochran continue to support the progress being made at SSA to reduce the huge backlog of pending disability appeals hearings and improve service to the public. Currently, it can take up to four years for claimants of disability benefits to have their application approved. During this time, they have no earnings and no benefits. The funds in this bill will help reduce backlogs by allowing for additional Administrative Law Judges and support staff. In addition, by meeting the President’s request, my Senate colleagues will also allow SSA to carry out important program integrity activities. Every dollar spent on these activities is estimated to save at least seven dollars, money that can be used to cut costs to taxpayers and reduce the deficit.”

In May of last year, the Finance Committee held a hearing to examine service delivery to the public in Social Security’s field offices. The Government Accountability Office reported at that hearing that service to the public has been suffering, including the inability of the public to get through to the office by telephone, and up to two-hour long waiting times for walk-in customers in many offices. Meeting the President’s full funding request will allow SSA to begin to reverse declines in service and accommodate increased public demand.

The Senate Committee on Finance holds jurisdiction over the U.S. Social Security program.