The workload of the Social Security Administration continues to increase, with rising numbers of applications for disability and retirement benefits and continued need to ensure program integrity and reduce improper payments. However, since 2010 there has been essentially no increase in funding for Social Security operating expenses.
The combination of increased need and stagnant funding has already affected service. Staffing has been cut by 6,500. SSA has closed 23 offices and plans to close 11 more. Offices that remain open are closing a half hour earlier and at noon on Wednesdays. Last year there were more than 816,575 disability claims awaiting hearings and decisions—an increase of more than 100,000 from two years earlier.
SSA has already reduced costs and improved efficiency, but additional funding will be needed to keep services to the public from declining further—including further office closings, longer wait times for calls to the 800 number, and long delays in obtaining decisions on applications for disability benefits. Additional funding is also needed for continuing disability reviews, and SSI redeterminations to help make sure that benefits are provided only to people who qualify.And this isn't taking into account the effects if sequestration comes to pass. Sequestration would further lower Social Security's operating budget dramatically. Sequestration will come to pass on March 1 unless Congress and the President agree on something else.