NOSSCR engages in research and advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. We

  • Testify at Congressional hearings and/or provide written testimony
  • Meet with Congressional Representatives and Senators to provide information about pending or necessary legislation
  • Meet with representatives from the Social Security Administration
  • Periodically issue major reports designed to show how better public policy can bring about big improvements in the lives of our nation’s people living with disabilities

Below are recent policy updates from Capitol Hill and beyond:

Upcoming Hearings

Past Hearings

NOSSCR Testimony and Statements for the Record 

Social Security Related Legislation

Correspondence with Congress

For more current events about Social Security disability, visit our newsroom.



Upcoming Hearings 

Chairman Johnson Announces Hearing on Ensuring Social Security Serves America’s Veterans

In a press release issued on January 31, 2018, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) announced today that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled "Ensuring Social Security Serves America’s Veterans" on Wednesday, February 7, at 9:00 AM in room 2253 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  At the hearing, Members will examine the effectiveness of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) initiatives to reduce processing times and expedite claims for certain veterans, as well as efforts by the agency to hire veterans.  Military service members can receive expedited processing of disability claims from the SSA.  The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.  In addition, since March 17, 2014, veterans who have a VA compensation rating of 100% permanent and total may receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits.  We anticipate that the hearing will be livestreamed at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.



Past Hearings 

Two Upcoming House Ways and Means Hearings

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold two hearings on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.  In the morning, at 10:00 AM in 2020 Rayburn House Office Building, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on entitled "Determining Eligibility for Disability Benefits: Challenges Facing the Social Security Administration," which will focus on SSA's plan to reduce the hearing backlog and claimant wait times, other efforts to modernize and improve the disability determination process, and tools available to expedite decisions for those with certain severe conditions.  The hearing advisory has more detailed information.  Then, on Wednesday afternoon, at 2:00 PM in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled "Missing from the Labor Force: Examining Declining Employment among Working-Age Men," which will examine the steady decline of men participating in the labor force and the impact it has on our society, the economy, and individual and family well-being.  The hearing advisory has more detailed information.  We anticipate both hearings being livestreamed at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.

Social Security Subcommittee Hearing on Social Security’s Solvency Challenge

House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) announced today that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Social Security’s Solvency Challenge: Status of the Social Security Trust Funds” on Friday, July 14, at 10:00 AM in room 2020 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  At the hearing, Members will discuss the status of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Funds and the effects of delaying action to address Social Security’s future insolvency.  The hearing advisory has more detailed information.  We anticipate that the hearing will be livestreamed at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.

Social Security Subcommittee Hearing on Stopping Disability Fraud

House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) announced on April 19, 2017 that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing, entitled “Stopping Disability Fraud: Risk, Prevention, and Detection,” on Wednesday, April 26, at 10:00 AM in room 2020 of the Rayburn House Office Building. At the hearing, Members will discuss the status of the Social Security Administration’s efforts to prevent disability fraud after several high-profile multi-million-dollar fraud schemes. On the day of the hearing, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will release a new report to update Members on the SSA’s efforts to fight disability fraud. The hearing advisory has more detailed information. Watch the hearing livestream at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.

Social Security Subcommittee Hearing on Representative Payees

House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) are holding a two-part joint hearing series on Social Security’s representative payee program, which helps certain individuals manage their benefits if the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that they need assistance. The first hearing in the series, entitled “Examining the Social Security Administration’s Representative Payee Program: Determining Who Needs Help,” was on Tuesday, February 7, at 10:00 AM. At the hearing, Members examined how the SSA determines when an individual needs a representative payee to manage benefit payments on their behalf. They also discussed the NICS provision that would place certain recipients of Social Security benefits on a “no buy” list for guns. Invited Witnesses were Marianna LaCanfora, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration; Dr. Paul Appelbaum, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine & Law, Columbia University Testimony; Lindsay Nichols, Senior Attorney, The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence/Americans for Responsible Solutions; Gale Stallworth Stone Acting Inspector General, Social Security Administration.

A replay of the hearing is available at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.   The second hearing in this series, entitled "Examining the Social Security Administration's Representative Payee Program: Who Provides Help," will be held on Wednesday, March 22 in 1100 Longworth House Office Building at 10:00 AM.  This hearing will focus on how SSA selects and monitors those serving as representative payees.   

To see more past hearings, click here.   

NOSSCR Testimony and Statements for the Record  

Examples of hearings where NOSSCR leadership was an invited witness include:

 

NOSSCR Submits Statement for the Record of February 26 House Committee on Ways and Means Hearing

The House Committee on Ways and Means' Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on February 26th, examining troubling allegations regarding what appears to have been concerted action by a group of New York City police officers, firefighters and others to defraud the Social Security disability program. The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) staff attended the hearing, and submitted a statement for the record, condemning the actions alleged in the hearing and urging Congress to provide the Social Security Administration with adequate resources to ensure the integrity of its disability programs.

Read NOSSCR's statement for the record

NOSSCR Submits Statement for the Record of January 16 House Committee on Ways and Means Hearing

The House Committee on Ways and Means' Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on January 16th, examining very troubling allegations regarding what appears to have been concerted action by a group of New York City police officers, firefighters and others to defraud the Social Security disability program. The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) staff attended the hearing, and submitted a statement for the record, condemning the actions alleged in the hearing and urging Congress to provide the Social Security Administration with adequate resources to ensure the integrity of its disability programs.

Read NOSSCR's statement for the record

NOSSCR Submits Statement for the Record of Oct. 7 Senate Oversight Hearing

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on October 7th, examining troubling allegations regarding what appear to have been concerted fraudulent actions by a Huntington, West Virginia attorney and a former Administrative Law Judge. Thankfully, the Committee made clear that there is no evidence that the alleged actions are anything but an isolated incident. The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) submitted a statement for the record, condemning the actions alleged in the hearing and urging Congress to provide the Social Security Administration with adequate resources to ensure the integrity of its disability programs.

Read NOSSCR's statement for the record
Read NOSSCR’s press release responding to the hearing



Social Security Related Legislation 

Johnson, Larson Applaud Passage of the Representative Social Security Payee Bill

On February 5, 2018, The House voted 396-0 today to pass H.R. 4547, the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 – bipartisan legislation to strengthen and improve the representative payee program to better protect vulnerable Social Security beneficiaries who are unable to manage their own funds.

House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX), original sponsor of the bill, released the following statement upon passage:

“Today we took action to help ensure Social Security beneficiaries get the support they need from people they can trust. This legislation modernizes and strengthens the representative payee program to protect the best interests of beneficiaries. It strengthens oversight of the program, improves the representative payee selection process, and bolsters protections for the people who need help managing their benefits. It has been a pleasure working with Ranking Member Larson on this much-needed legislation. I applaud the House for passing H.R. 4547, and I look forward to the Senate taking the next step toward improving this program for millions of beneficiaries. Americans expect and deserve no less from the Social Security Administration.”

Social Security Subcommittee Ranking Member John Larson (D-CT), lead Democratic sponsor of the bill, released the following statement:

“I was proud to see the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (H.R. 4547) pass in the House of Representatives today. This bill’s success is attributed to the guidance of my good friend Congressman Sam Johnson, Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee. Congressman Johnson has served his state of Texas and the country as a true American hero over the years and this bill is further testament to his statesmanship. This bill will better safeguard those most in need of protection, including nearly 4 million children, by strengthening the selection and monitoring of payees, while reducing administrative burdens on families caring for loved ones. We can always take measure of our country by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens – children, seniors and those with severe disabilities.”

CLICK HERE for the legislative text of the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018.

CLICK HERE to read the Ways and Means Committee’s technical explanation outlining H.R. 4547, and CLICK HERE to read the letter that the Committee sent to the Social Security Administration afterwards.

CLICK HERE to learn more about how this bipartisan bill helps millions of Americans.

NOSSCR proudly supported this bill given the essential role representative payees play in serving the needs of millions of beneficiaries who need assistance managing their benefits.  

Fiscal Year 2017 Spending Plan Finalized 

Last week, Congress passed and the President signed a spending bill that funds the federal government through the rest of Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), which ends on September 30. SSA’s administrative budget is broadly similar to last year’s, with two exceptions. 

First, the Fiscal Year 2016 budget had allocated $150 million to SSA to renovate its headquarters in Woodlawn, Maryland. The series of “continuing resolutions” that kept the government open for the first part of FY17 stated that SSA would receive another $150 million this year, specifically for reducing the backlog at the hearing level. However, the final FY17 budget only allows $90 million for backlog-reducing measures. SSA is currently determining how they will use this smaller amount of money. The agency has indicated it is continuing to hire and train new ALJs and has also recently hired approximately 200 decision writers and other support staff. 

The second change in SSA funding is that the agency received approximately $400 million more for “program integrity” activities. These include Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs), SSI redeterminations, Cooperative Disability Investigation Units, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys (SAUSAs) who help prosecute Social Security fraud cases.

As the Trump Administration begins preparing its Fiscal Year 2018 budget request, NOSSCR will continue to advocate for SSA to receive sufficient administrative funding. The agency must have the resources it needs to manage all of its workloads and provide quality service to claimants, beneficiaries, representatives, and the general public. 

2017 Congressional Budget Resolution

The Senate will vote this week on a number of amendments to its budget resolution, and then on the budget itself. The budget, if passed, would begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act. NOSSCR has endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I -VT) amendment that creates a point of order against any legislation that would break Donald Trump’s promise not to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Government Shutdown Avoided (Or At Least Postponed)

Congress passed a continuing resolution that will keep the federal government open until December 9. The Senate vote was 72-26 and the House vote was 342-85. The President signed this legislation on September 29.

The continuing resolution cuts discretionary spending by 0.496%. SSA will face a cut of about $53 million. SSA believes that its costs to provide the current level of service will increase by over $300 million in the coming fiscal year. This means that SSA will have to find ways to cut its expenses, and the agency will be less productive in Fiscal Year 2017. The only area of SSA operations exempt from the cut are certain types of program integrity spending, including Continuing Disability Reviews and SSI redeterminations. Funding for program integrity will remain at Fiscal Year 2016 levels under the continuing resolution.

Members of Congress are expected to return to Washington after Election Day to discuss federal spending for the rest of Fiscal Year 2017, which runs from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. 

Congress is Considering Cuts to Social Security’s Operating Budget – Act Now

Today, a record one million Americans are waiting over 575 days on average for a hearing on their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claims. Today’s backlog exists because Social Security’s operating budget has been cut by over 10 percent since 2010, while workloads have increased as the baby boomers age.

Now, Congress is considering even more cuts. A funding bill in the House of Representatives would cut Social Security’s operating budget by over $250 million in 2017. Under the House bill, the Social Security Administration would need to close all its offices for two weeks, since all employees would be furloughed. And a hiring freeze would lead to longer wait times and delays in all parts of our Social Security retirement, survivors’, and disability system. The Senate version of the bill provides slightly more funding, but still fails to address many critical agency resource needs.

Contact your Congressional Representative TODAY and tell them to fully fund the Social Security Administration.

Tell them:

    • I urge you to vote to fully fund the Social Security Administration’s operating budget, at the levels requested in President Obama’s 2017 budget.
    • Today, over 1 million people with disabilities are waiting over 575 days on average for a hearing on their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability claims. This is an all-time high. Most people have little to no income while waiting for a hearing, and run the risk of financial ruin and worsening health the longer they wait.
    • Social Security’s operating budget has been reduced by 10 percent from 2010 levels. Any further cuts will lead to even longer, more devastating waits and reduced service to the public.
    • Americans cannot afford a Social Security Administration that is underfunded and understaffed.
    • Please ensure that Social Security’s operating budget is fully funded for 2017 at levels the President has requested.

Social Security Earned Benefits Payment Act

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) introduced the Social Security Earned Benefits Payment Act (S. 2090H.R. 3621) on September 28, 2015. There are 27 cosponsors in the Senate and 9 in the House.  All of the sponsors are Democrats.

This bill would provide for a “clean reallocation” of tax revenues, as Congress has done 11 times in the past with bipartisan support. Changing the percentage of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes that are placed in Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund and Old Age and Survivors’ Trust Fund for calendar years 2016-2020 would allow both trust funds to remain solvent until 2034.  If the distribution of tax revenues between the trust funds does not change, and Congress does not take any other action, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund is expected to become insolvent in late 2016, meaning that it could only pay 81% of scheduled benefits. 

This bill does not meet the requirements of the House rule passed by the Republican majority in January 2015. That rule creates a “point of order,” or procedural barrier, against any substantial reallocation that is not paired with spending reductions or revenue increases that benefit the combined trust funds. However, a simple majority of the House could vote to overturn the point of order; if the Social Security Earned Benefits Payment Act has enough votes to pass the House, the rule would not be a significant obstacle. 

Although Republicans have promised to avoid the across-the-board cuts that would result from Congressional inaction, it is unlikely that they will support the Social Security Earned Benefits Payment Act at this time. NOSSCR is closely monitoring the situation in Congress regarding trust fund solvency, and will send action alerts to members at any time when members of Congress would benefit from hearing from constituents on this important issue.  



Correspondence with Congress 

CCD Statement for the Record U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means

The undersigned members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) submitted the following statement for the record of the February 25, 2015 hearing held by the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security, on “Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund’s Solvency”.

The CCD is a coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration, and inclusion of the approximately 57 million children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. SSDI’s modest but vital assistance supports these goals for approximately 11 million Americans, helping beneficiaries with disabilities and their families to meet their everyday needs -- keeping a roof over their heads, putting food on the table, paying for out-of-pocket medical and disability-related expenses, and meeting other basic living expenses. 
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