The Social Security Administration — where staffing is at its lowest levels since the 1970s and the number of disability claims are at an all-time high — got some hopeful news on its budget yesterday.

The House and Senate appropriations committees agreed to provide the agency with $9.9 billion for operations in fiscal 2008. That is $275 million more than the Bush administration requested and probably enough to keep Social Security from drowning, at least for the short term, in its growing workload.

The problem is that the President has promised to veto this appropriations bill. The ultimate outcome is uncertain. For the moment, the Social Security Administration is operating under a continuing funding resolution at last year’s rate. As a result, the agency is under a complete hiring freeze. The budget stalemate and Social Security’s hiring freeze could go on for months.