Ranking Member Lewis Opening Statement at Oversight-Social Security Joint Subcommittee Hearing on Representative Payee Program

Feb 7, 2017
Press Release

(Remarks as delivered)

Good Morning.  Mr. Chairmen, thank you for holding today’s hearing.  I would also like to thank all the witnesses for being here today.

This morning, we are studying the Representative Payee Program.  Together, we will learn more about how the Social Security Administration provides a person or organization to handle the benefits of another.  This program is a saving grace for seniors struggling with dementia, for the mentally and physically disabled, for children who lost a parent, and for those who lose a spouse.  This hearing is an important first step in understanding how we can help the agency better serve the most vulnerable among us. 

Over the years, many of you have heard me say that Social Security is a sacred trust.  It is a trust between the American government and the American people.   It is the greatest example of the beloved community in our country. 

I hope this committee will not shy away from understanding how Republican budget cuts impact this program and other services.  These cuts make it harder for the agency to provide the quality service that Americans deserve and expect.  

I believe in my heart of hearts that the biggest threat to this program is not the retirement of the baby boomers – it is reckless budget cuts.  Each and every one of us has a shared duty and obligation to uphold this sacred trust for generations yet unborn. 

In the regional agency Office located in my congressional district, the average wait time is 619 days to wait for a hearing.  Unfortunately, these delays are not limited to disability payments.   Can you imagine waiting for almost two years – two years?  Americans deserve better.

Mr. Chairmen, we cannot strengthen this program by starving Social Security.  Congress must give the hard-working staff the support and resources they need to serve the most vulnerable among us.  Together, we can do better.  We must do better. 

Again, I thank the witnesses for being here today.  I look forward to the testimony.  Thank you, Mr. Chairmen.