In a rare victory for seniors, the passage of the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill in Congress increases funding for several programs that assist the elderly – and gives a much-needed boost to the beleaguered Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA gets an increase of $480 million over the previous fiscal year, including $100 million for reducing the backlog in Social Security Disability Insurance hearings – which some 10,000 Americans died waiting for in 2017. The funding bump – which the National Committee has long advocated – should also alleviate some of the excessively long wait times for customer service on SSA’s toll-free phone line and in-person at SSA field offices.
The Omnibus bill also includes $59 million more for Older Americans Act Senior Nutrition programs and an increase of $250 million for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), while the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) receives a modest increase in funding. The spending plan also gives a $414 million boost to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Alzheimer’s and dementia research.
“We applaud Congress for maintaining spending for senior programs that President Trump proposed to eliminate in his FY 2018 budget, including the Senior Community Service Employment Program, the Community Development Block Grant, and the Community Services Block Grant, which helps to pay for Meals on Wheels. In a Congress besieged by partisan battles over healthcare and taxes, we welcome the parties coming together to make the wise choice and adequately fund vital government services for America’s seniors. We call on President Trump to sign this bill and not deny millions of seniors the funding increase they need and deserve.” – Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
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