Oct 22, 2012

Budget Falls As Workload Increases

     From the U.S. News and World Report:
Citing budget pressures, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has once again suspended mailing paper statements and will begin next month to close its more than 1,200 field offices 30 minutes earlier each day. Next January, the offices will begin closing at noon each Wednesday. ...
"People are not going to get their calls answered properly, and they're going to show up at [Social Security] offices and find them closed," says Timothy Gearan, senior legislative representative at AARP. "That's going to cause a lot of trouble." ..
Citing Social Security statistics, Gearan says more than 180,000 people a day visit Social Security offices and nearly 450,000 a day call the agency for assistance. Both numbers are rising due to increasing claims spurred by the recession plus the surge of retiring baby boomers.
Gearan says the SSA has been victimized by continuing legislative gridlock between Congressional Republicans and Democrats. The department's funding for operational expenses is paid from discretionary appropriations, not from the independent Social Security trust funds. Current agency administrative spending is about $11.8 billion a year, Gearan says. "Social Security was spending just about that amount two years ago, and we know we've had a heck of a lot more people coming through" since then to use agency services. The agency's budget "is about a billion dollars below where we think it should be."
"They've lost 9,000 employees over the past three years," he says, "and we expect them to lose another 1,000 jobs this year ... They're doing wonderful work but they're just caught in a bind between the two parties in Congress."
     Social Security is not "caught in a bind between the two parties in Congress." One party wants to adequately fund Social Security. The other party is blocking adequate funding because it wants to cut Social Security's budget to the point that the agency is incapable of operating. Knock off the false equivalence. Be honest about what's happening.
     The head of the union that represents most Social Security employees has also written on the same subject for the Federal Times.

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