WASHINGTON— Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, author of the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act, responded to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study which found that thousands of American die or go bankrupt waiting to receive their disability benefits each year. The GAO report was commissioned by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT).
“I applaud Senator Sanders and Rep. Larson for commissioning GAO to conduct this important review of disability wait times,” said Rep. Grijalva. “The results, though heart-wrenching, show a problem that has been clear for quite some time. Our system is so rigid that people are going bankrupt or literally dying before they can get the help they need and deserve. Many believe that we shall be judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us, and it is clear that as a country we are failing this test. We can do better.”
Among the findings in the new GAO report were that about 48,000 individuals filed for bankruptcy while awaiting a final decision about their disability appeals from FY2014 through FY2019. 109,725 individuals died prior to receiving a final decision about their appeal from FY2008 through FY2019.
“Part of the problem is that some provisions of our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program have not been updated since 1972, the year it was signed into law by President Nixon,” continued Rep. Grijalva. “I have introduced a bill to improve SSI by streamlining and simplifying the claiming process, expanding the resources and income limits and eliminating punitive reductions in benefits. I call on Democratic and Republican leadership alike to implement this solution to bring our SSI program into the 21st century and begin to right these wrongs.”