Extra funding could shorten nearly 2-year wait for Social Security hearings in Syracuse

The nearly two-year wait for a Social Security appeal hearing in Syracuse could get even longer if the federal agency does not beef up its staff soon, Sen. Charles D. Schumer, D-NY, warned today.

Congress included an addition $440 million in the federal budget approved in March to help Social Security address chronic delays that have plagued the agency for years.

Schumer said the agency's Syracuse field office should get some of that money first because its hearing office has 9,028 pending cases, the biggest backlog in the state. He discussed the issue at a news conference at the Cicero Senior Center.

The agency cannot keep up with demand because more and more baby boomers are retiring and becoming eligible for Social Security benefits, Schumer said. People who call the agency are routinely put on hold.

"Central New York seniors and those waiting for a hearing are sick and tired of listening to hold music instead of speaking with a real live human being," he said.

Prior to the recent increase in funding, the Social Security Administration's operating budget had been cut 11 percent since 2010, leading to job cuts and the closure of some field offices.

The federal agency paid $990 billion in benefits last year to 67 million retired or disabled workers, survivors and recipients of Supplemental Security Income.

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