November 20, 2017

Webster County, Miss. — On the 597th day, the day he hoped everything would change, Joe Stewart woke early. He took 15 pills in a single swallow. He shaved his head. And then he got down to the business of the day, which was the business of every day, and that was waiting. He looked outside, and saw his mother there in a green sedan, engine running. So many months he had waited for this moment, and now it was here. Time for his Social Security disability hearing. Time to go.

Stewart, 55, set out on crutches, tottering out of his mobile home and down a metal ramp he’d laid when...

November 13, 2017

Most people think of Social Security as a retirement benefit, and that's understandable. Among the 61 million Americans receiving Social Security at the end of 2016, 68%--44.3 million people--were retired.

But Social Security's broad aim is to protect against the risk of lost income from work. The income loss might be due to retirement, disability, or to a survivor after the death of a family breadwinner. Last year, 14% of Social Security beneficiaries (10.6 million people) were disabled workers; the remaining 18% were survivors, spouses, or children of workers entitled to benefits...

November 9, 2017

Economic opportunity for all is the cornerstone of the American dream. There are many individuals, however, who face obstacles in reaching this opportunity because of their disability. These individuals have just as strong a desire to be self-sufficient as individuals without disabilities, but desire alone is not enough; the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities is just over 20 percent, compared to nearly 70 percent for people without disabilities.

One avenue for self-empowerment is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Funded by workers’...

October 30, 2017

The lack of political will to address a looming Social Security funding crisis is prompting some people to get creative with ideas for making the system last longer or having the private sector be more involved.

"A major reform should focus on retirement security writ large," said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. After a special commission formed by the center spent 2014 and 2015 looking at the U.S. retirement system, "the main lesson I learned is that a Social Security package full of benefit cuts and tax increases will be...

October 20, 2017

Column by Michael Hiltzik

Since they’ve been unsuccessful (thus far) at cutting Social Security benefits, congressional Republicans are continuing to resort to the backdoor assault on the program by starving its administrative budget. In the latest versions of the agency’s budget under consideration in Washington, the House is planning to keep the budget at the same inadequate funding level as the current year. The ever more ambitious Senate is trying to cut it by $400 million, or nearly 4%.

To retirees, near-retirees and disability applicants the effects aren’t invisible....

October 12, 2017

When vital social insurance programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance, are “never enough,” as the article noted, beneficiaries are invariably forced to do whatever it takes to survive. In the National Academy of Social Insurance’s Report to the New Leadership and the American People on Social Insurance and Inequality (issued in January), we examined sensible ways both to improve the performance of SSDI in meeting the needs of people with disabilities and to secure the program’s long-term solvency.

It is important for readers to remember that the SSDI test of work...

September 28, 2017

Washington, DC – On Thursday, September 28, 2017, the House of Representatives approved by a vote of 224 to 171 an amended version of H.R. 2792, a bill to cut off Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits entirely for certain people with disabilities, as well as seniors. The proposed cut would bar payment of SSI benefits to people with an outstanding arrest warrant for an alleged felony or for an alleged violation of probation or parole. The CCD Social Security Task Force thanks all Members who voted against H.R. 2792 and urges the Senate to reject this harmful legislation.


September 25, 2017


As an attorney who helps Sussex County residents with Social Security Disability and SSI claims, I am responding to the story of the million individuals waiting for their hearings.

Please know that the employees of the SSA hearing offices, the local SSA offices, and the state agencies are doing their best with limited resources. Administrative law judges are working harder than ever with reduced staffs.

Here's what you can do. Write or call Congress and ask them not to make the even more drastic cuts proposed. Ask Congress to increase the hours that the local...