Sep 20, 2010

The Baby Boomer Claims Rush Is A Come As You Are Party

A panel appointed to review Social Security's future technology needs is wringing its hands about how the Social Security Administration is going to handle the crushing workload that will arrive when baby boomers begin retiring en masse.

In my opinion that is a naive concern. Retirement claims require little effort at Social Security. The agency's employees mostly spend their time working on claims filed by people who are not yet eligible for retirement benefits -- disability and survivor claims. Unlike retirement claims these take staff time. Disability and survivor claims go up as the population ages but the baby boomer peak for these claims has to be several years before the peak for retirement claims.

Has anyone at Social Security figured out when its baby boomer peak workload will actually arrive? I am guessing it will come in the next five years but there have to be people at Social Security whose job it is to project the agency's future staffing needs. When do they think the peak will arrive?

This matters because the upcoming wave of baby boomer retirements is being used as justification for long term technology project recommendations. Social Security needs long term technology planning but it is too late for any long term initiative to help with the baby boomer peak workload. That peak is is nearly here.


Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you said. I do want to point out that regardless of what SSA does to estimate our staffing needs, we are at the mercy of Congress and politics in terms of actually being able to meet those needs. Right now we have a hiring freeze and December is right around the corner. This is when large numbers of eligible employees tend to retire. And if any of the Republican proposals to change our retirement (high 3 to high 5 and 12day furlough in 2011) many more of us will retire sooner than we had planned. I definitely prefer coffee to tea!

Anonymous said...

1st Anon is right on the money. Hiring has nothing to do with workload or retirement - it is all politics.

The simple fact of the matter is that the agency will once again freeze hiring, and we'll be down to where we were before this years' hiring binge.

Besides, the number of active employees quoted by the agency also include a several re-hired annuitants whose terms will run out soon. These folks will definitely not be replaced.

Anonymous said...

FYI, the hiring freeze is for Central Office and regional offices, not for operations.

Anonymous said...

I viewed the hiring binge of the last FY as a bit of overkill until I realized that SSA is one of the "older" agencies in the Government, as in number of employees eligible to retire either now or in the next few years. Probably a good investment as it takes a good 2-3 years to become proficient as a CR, for example. But given the deficit situation, don't expect a repeat performance.

Anonymous said...

I am in operations and we were told hiring freeze--no hiring for FO's. Would love more info if you have it.