Budget Woes and the Social Security Administration (SSA): Part 1
In some form or another, most of us are feeling the fiscal pressures of the current economic climate, and the SSA is no exception. But when a budget shortfall affects an institution as large and depended upon as the SSA, the question on everyone’s mind is, how will funding shortages affect service?
In this case, the answer is: critically. At a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, Carolyn Colvin, the SSA’s current Acting Commissioner, testified about how insufficient funding has negatively impacted the SSA and those it serves.
Among the many consequences of the SSA’s budget shortages are: increasingly long wait times and reduced business hours at SSA field offices, increased numbers of threats and incidents of violence at field offices, field office consolidations, closure of nearly 500 SSA contact stations, a doubling of average hold times on the SSA’s 800-line, and a major backlog of hearings (resulting in an average processing time of over 380 days).
Without the funding to hire new administrative law judges (ALJs) to hear cases, funding the SSA does not expect to get until sometime in 2014, there is little it can do about the existing backlog.
Unfortunately, even the funding that the SSA currently receives in appropriations falls short of what Congress has sanctioned. However, until the economic climate improves, the SSA will likely continue to face major administrative difficulties.