Constituent Letter – Senator Patty Murray

We drafted this letter and sent it to Patty Murray’s office. This letter includes the specific proposed language that we have requested, as well as contact information for our team.

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Proposed Language: Disability Payments- The late payment of Social Security Disability Insurance claims creates an excessive burden on claimants waiting for their Social Security Disability Insurance back pay.  The Committee directs the Social Security Administration to work with the relevant stakeholders to evaluate and implement changes to its disability payments process that would ensure that the Social Security Administration pays all Social Security Disability Insurance claims pursuant to 20 CFR 404.1725 within 60 days of receiving a favorable decision.  The Committee further directs the Social Security Administration to report to Congress within 90 days on the specific policies the Social Security Administration has implemented, or has considered, to streamline the disability payments’ process.

Text of the Letter

March 13, 2020

Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 Attn: Ben Merkel

Re:      Labor-HHS Appropriations Request

Requestor       

Disability Benefits Deadline Initiative

A coalition of Social Security Disability Advocates directed by

Salus Disability Consulting, LLC

723 The Parkway

Richland, WA 99352

The Disability Benefits Deadline Initiative is a Richland, Washington based organization comprised of Social Security Disability advocates who represent claimants before the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).  We are a diverse organization that formed to advocate for prompt payment of Social Security Disability claims awarded to beneficiaries.  In keeping with our mission, we call to your attention the issue of delayed payment of Social Security Disabilities backpay. 

The Social Security Administration has no clear policy in place to address timely payment of Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) claimants’ backpay and attorney’s fees.  Too often the SSA’s inability to pay within a reasonable timeframe leaves successful claimants without the finances to pay for their basic living expenses. The Social Security Administration has no internal or external deadline to issue payments. There is no process or chain of command that allows representatives or claimants to escalate a delayed payment. 

This problem is widespread and impacts children, the elderly, disabled individuals, homeless populations, rural communities, and small business owners.  In the FY18-FY20 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bills, Congress worked to reduce the SSDI hearing backlog at the SSA.  However, the policy purpose for this reduction – ensuring that claimants have the opportunity to receive the benefits that they are entitled to by law- is defeated when these claimants don’t receive their benefits within a reasonable amount of time.  Accordingly we respectfully request legislative language that would direct the Social Security Administration to implement rules that would ensure the timely payment of SSDI backpay.

The late payment of SSDI backpay not only causes unnecessary financial stress to claimants in Washington and throughout the country, it also burdens these claimants’ representatives who find themselves having to shoulder additional debt as they await payment from the SSA.  The slow/lack of a date certain for payment causes attorneys to leave this practice area.  The difficulty in finding an attorney results in claimants foregoing benefits that they could be entitled to by law because they are unfamiliar with the SSDI claims process. 

We met with staff in your district office and our Washington, DC representative, Tim Peckinpaugh with K&L Gates, has spoken with your senior legislative staff in Washington, DC.  They have been very helpful and interested in hearing more about this pressing issue.  We believe that report language accompanying the FY21 Labor-HHS appropriations bill could fix this problem.  As a result, we have prepared report language directing SSA pay out claims within 60 days of receiving a fee request as required under 20 CFR 404.1725 (the regulation that focuses on requests for payment).  This language would also ensure SSA pays attention to this problem by directing that it send a report to Congress outlining its strategy for dealing with this issue.  We have included suggested legislative language along with the account information below. 

Our coalition would very much appreciate your support for this request.  Thank you.

Request Information

Organization Contact Information:

Maren Miller Bam or Rocco Luongo

Disability Benefits Deadline Initiative

A coalition of Social Security Disability Advocates directed by

Salus Disability Consulting, LLC

723 The Parkway

Richland, WA 99352

maren@dibdeadline.com or rocco@dibdeadline.com

(570) 640-8355

Washington DC Representative:

Tim Peckinpaugh and Brenden Chainey

K&L Gates, LLP                                            

1601 K Street, NW

Tim.Peckinpaugh@klgates.com                   

Brenden.Chainey@klgates.com

(202) 661-6265

Language Requests

Appropriations Bill: Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Specific agency: Social Security Administration

Appropriations account: Limitation on Administrative Expenses (LAE)

Language type (Bill or Report): Report

Proposed Language: Disability Payments- The late payment of Social Security Disability Insurance claims creates an excessive burden on claimants waiting for their Social Security Disability Insurance back pay.  The Committee directs the Social Security Administration to work with the relevant stakeholders to evaluate and implement changes to its disability payments process that would ensure that the Social Security Administration pays all Social Security Disability Insurance claims pursuant to 20 CFR 404.1725 within 60 days of receiving a favorable decision.  The Committee further directs the Social Security Administration to report to Congress within 90 days on the specific policies the Social Security Administration has implemented, or has considered, to streamline the disability payments’ process.

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