Unfortunately, for The Times and its readers, your article about the Supplemental Security Income program is full of misleading statements. As two long-term employees of Social Security (combined 38 years in district offices), we have put thousands of people on SSI, and none of them had to complete an application that "boggles the mind." Claims representatives are there to complete the applications with and for the customers. We never give out blank application forms to the public to complete themselves. We explain the program requirements and benefits, assist customers in quickly and easily signing up.
What is truly mind-boggling is that our new commissioner apparently is unaware of how things are done!
Payments here in California are so generous that a couple on SSI can have almost $1,200 total monthly income (over $14,000 yearly) despite having unlimited equity in their home, and up to $3,000 cash, and their medical care is paid for by Medi-Cal.
Although it is true that severe staff reductions under the Reagan/Bush Administrations have badly hurt our ability to provide public service, we have not had what you refer to as a "cumbersome application process" for many years.