Oct 6, 2008

NCSSMA Issues Newsletter With Astrue Interview

The National Council of Social Security Management Associations (NCSSMA) has released the October 2008 issue of Frontline, its newsletter. This issue features an interview with Commissioner Astrue.

The Commissioner said that his agency may be faced with operating under a year long continuing resolution (CR) for the 2009 fiscal year (FY), which would freeze the agency's budget at the . He promised a 1-1 replacement ratio for departing employees of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), which is where the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) work, but only a 1-3 replacement ratio for the rest of Social Security. It is not clear from the article, but Astrue must have been talking about the staffing replacement ratios under a year long CR. I suppose the Commissioner and his staff need to prepare for the worst, but I cannot imagine that the Commissioner expects a year long CR if Barack Obama is elected.

The Commissioner talked of opening five new hearing offices in areas of highest backlogs, but did not say where those would go.

Astrue told NCSSMA that he would like to see his agency go from its current 61,000 employees to 65,000 employees, but did not say when he would propose a budget that would accomplish this.

The newsletter also says that Linda McMahon, Social Security's Deputy Commissioner for Operations, told the group that the agency had suffered "unexpected contract increases" of $450 million! No explanation was given. $450 million might even be enough to pay for those extra 4,000 employees that Commissioner Astrue talked about.

An article in the newsletter talks of a serious shortage of computer workstations at Social Security field offices. A survey showed that 44% of NCSSMA members were reporting problems and 24% reported this to be having a somewhat to very significant impact on waiting times. The San Francisco region is having the most problems.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know some people will scoff, but as a 30-year FO employee nearing retirement, my best judgment is that ssa needs 25000 new employees. The backlog of cases at all levels is so monstrous that only an equally monstrous hiring campaign can begin to address it. 65000 employees might be adequate as a baseline for the future if all current backlogs ceased to exist, but in no other way would it be remotely adequate.
And no, I do not expect Obama to even consider staffing SSA adequately. The Democratic congress has dropped the ball for the past 21 months, so why should he "change" things?.