For a party that doesn’t believe in evolution the GOP seems to have no trouble believing in Social Darwinism. The NY Times reports that the Social Security Administration is trying to deal with a huge backlog of disability claims:
“the backlog of applicants who are awaiting a decision after appealing an initial rejection has soared to 755,000 from 311,000 in 2000. The average wait for an appeals hearing now exceeds 500 days, twice as long as applicants had to wait in 2000.
Typically two-thirds of those who appeal eventually win their cases. But during the long wait, their conditions may worsen and their lives often fall apart. More and more people have lost their homes, declared bankruptcy or even died while awaiting an appeals hearing.
In one poignant case… a North Carolina woman who is tethered to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day has been waiting three years for a decision. She finally got a hearing last month and is awaiting a final verdict, but, meanwhile, she has lost her apartment and alternates sleeping at her daughter’s crowded house and a friend’s place.
The cause of the bottlenecks is well known. There are simply too few administrative law judges — 1,025 at present — to keep up with the workload. The Social Security Administration is adopting automated tools and more efficient administrative practices, but virtually everyone agrees that no real dent will be made in the backlog until the agency can hire more judges and support staff.
The blame for this debacle lies mostly with the Republicans. For most of this decade, the administration has held the agency’s budget requests down and Republican-dominated Congresses have appropriated less than the administration requested. Now the Democratic-led Congress wants to increase funding to the Social Security Administration, and the White House is resisting.
Last month, Congress passed a $151 billion health, education and labor spending bill that would have given the Social Security Administration $275 million more than the president requested, enough to hire a lot more judges and provide other vital services. But Mr. Bush vetoed that bill as profligate.”
Jesus would be proud.