Disability Backlogs Violate Due Process Rights

May 8, 2008 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Employment verification would only worsen an unreasonable process

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: (202) 675-2312, media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union was encouraged by today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on service delivery problems with the Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices. The SSA has struggled in processing disability claims in reasonable timeframes and the ACLU has concerns that a mandatory employment verification system would capsize the already overburdened agency.

“Disabled Americans are waiting upwards of two years to receive Social Security benefits. Now is not the time for Congress to impose a radical new duty on SSA – the verification of every worker in the U.S.,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Over half of all calls made to SSA field offices across the country go unanswered. Congress should focus on giving SSA the resources necessary to execute its critical functions of processing disability, retirement, and survivor benefits, and reject mandatory electronic employment verification.”

Both chambers of Congress are currently considering legislation that would implement mandatory electronic employment verification systems. These systems would place the verification responsibility on the SSA, requiring that job applicants’ documentation is accurate and in good standing before any new job could be accepted. In addition to disability backlogs, the SSA databases are fraught with errors in individual Social Security records that would prevent innocent Americans from working until their records are corrected.

“The Secure America through Verification Enforcement (“SAVE” Act) [S. 2368, H.R. 4088] would crush the SSA field offices,” added Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Approximately 3.6 million workers would need to visit an SSA field office each year in order to correct their Social Security records, or lose their jobs. The SAVE Act would also require every worker with earnings reported by two or more employers to visit a field office annually to prove their identity and earnings. This translates into an additional 45 million field office visits per year.”

The ACLU written statement submitted to the committee can be found at:
/disability/gen/35204leg20080508.html

# # #

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.