As a strong supporter of the Social Security program, I oppose any efforts to weaken the program or take guaranteed benefits away from retirees who have earned them. For more than 70 years, Social Security has supported our nation’s seniors. Over 1.8 million Georgians rely on Social Security benefits. Any efforts to restrict access to these benefits threaten the health and safety of public safety officials, teachers, state and county employees, and any of the 62 million Americans who have worked for years to contribute to the system.
For years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been inadequately funded, causing many office closures and disruptions in service. Between 2010 and 2019, more than 60 Social Security Administration field offices have closed across the country, including two SSA field offices in our state. More than 600 employees in Georgia have left SSA field offices and the agency has reduced its staff working on state Disability Determination Services (DDS) by 17 percent.
Nearly 10,000 seniors file for Social Security and Medicare benefits each day. The elimination of the Social Security Administration’s national network of mobile offices has left Georgia’s rural communities with limited access to benefits. With fewer SSA staff members remaining to handle large caseloads, seniors often experience delays in receiving the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. To address this trend, I have voted for legislation to increase funding for the Social Security Administration to reduce wait times and ensure that seniors and their families receive benefits in a timely manner.
In the 116th Congress, I joined over 200 Members of Congress to introduce H.R. 860, the Social Security 2100 Act, which would establish a singular Social Security Trust Fund to provide retirement, Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), and Disability Insurance (DI) benefits and improve the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) formula for seniors who must spend more of their income on health care costs and other expenses.
In June 2019, the Georgia Department of Community Health removed nearly 30,000 seniors from Medicaid enrollment. In response, I joined Congressman Hank Johnson, Congressman Sanford Bishop, and Congresswoman Lucy McBath to send a letter to Governor Brian Kemp and Commissioner Frank Berry, demanding the restoration of these Medicaid benefits and an explanation for the abrupt enrollment cuts. Most of these seniors are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and temporary termination of their Medicaid benefits may also affect their eligibility for Social Security assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, as well as their children’s access to Medicaid coverage.
Throughout my years in public service, I have supported initiatives to ensure quality retirement programs and services for my constituents. After a lifetime of hard work, Congress must uphold the promise of this important program. I am here to work for Georgia, and I will continue to support efforts to protect and strengthen Social Security.