Senators Say Social Security Needs A Beneficiary Advocate
Much like there is a taxpayer advocate to speak up for average Americans at the Internal Revenue Service, a group of senators say that Social Security beneficiaries — including those with disabilities — deserve a voice at that agency too.
In a recent letter to President Joe Biden, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., say that the Social Security Administration needs a beneficiary advocate.
The senators said that the role should be modeled on the existing taxpayer advocate position at the IRS, which is an independent organization within the agency that helps taxpayers resolve problems.
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“The (Social Security Administration) lacks a voice to represent beneficiaries, especially in internal considerations for how to respond to problems and solve ongoing issues,” the senators said in their letter to Biden. “We urge you to create a taxpayer advocate-like position at SSA to ensure that beneficiaries have a stronger, dedicated voice in agency operations. Such a position will help our government continue to carry out the solemn commitment Social Security represents to the American people.”
Problems with Social Security have escalated during the pandemic, the letter notes. Field offices nationwide were closed until recently and the senators indicate that millions of calls to the agency have gone unanswered while stacks of mail remain unopened. However, even before the emergence of COVID-19, the letter notes that “the agency has long struggled to conduct outreach to families caring for disabled children.”
Currently, more than 69 million Americans receive monthly payments from Social Security, including 8 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries, many of whom have disabilities.
“People with disabilities rely on the Social Security Administration for many benefits, but they and their families frequently struggle to get answers or have problems sorted out,” said Gary Tonks, president and CEO of The Arc of Ohio. “A beneficiary advocate at the Social Security Administration would help address the problems that people with disabilities and others face when trying to access or maintain benefits.”
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