WASHINGTON, March 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Budget Committee and a member of Democratic leadership, welcomed the $480 million increase in funding to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the omnibus appropriations bill as a victory for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and SSA personnel who are overworked and underpaid.

This marks the first time in eight years that Social Security’s operating budget for core administrative activities has been increased after adjusting for inflation and comes just 6 months after Senate Republicans passed a bill in the Appropriations Committee that would have cut the SSA budget by $492 million.

Sanders said: “At a time when many Republicans are trying to cut and privatize Social Security, I am proud of the work we have done to provide a $480 million funding boost for the Social Security Administration.  This is a good step forward and will help millions of seniors and persons with disabilities receive their Social Security benefits in a timely manner.  It will also begin to address the horrific fact that each year some 10,000 people die waiting for a grossly underfunded and understaffed Social Security Administration to approve their disability benefits.  Clearly, we have a long way to go towards ending this crisis, but this increase in funding is a good start.”

Since 2010, Congress has cut Social Security’s operating budget by 16 percent in inflated-adjusted dollars.  Nationally, these budget cuts have resulted in the loss of more than 10,000 employees, the closing of 64 field offices and reduced hours in many others.  In Vermont, two field offices have seen staffing fall by almost 30 percent.