Huffington Post blogger Joanne Bamberger took issue today with the term "fiscal cliff," seeming to attribute the term to a right-wing conspiracy. A better phrase than "fiscal cliff" might be "fiscal sword," as politicians do what they always do in times of budget crunch-slash at the obvious. Raising the entitlement age for social security benefits and Medicare is basic and easy to understand. But the giant bureaucracies that administer government largesse are a hard target. One example is the Social Security Disability program, a cumbersome and time-consuming tangle of rules and regulations. That Social Security Disability reform is elusive is evident in arguments presented in a 2009 New York Times article titled "The Disability Mess."
How much is paid out each year in Social Security Disability claims?
Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue testified about that in May to a Senate Finance Committee. SSA paid out $128 billion in insured disability claims and $52.4 billion in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claims. An average wait time for a hearing, as of April, was 354 days. This is an improvement, says Astrue, over an all-time high of 532 days in August 2008.