A Few Notes on Program Integrity and Field Office Hours
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been busy completing a program integrity workload in the face of funding shortages. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently reviewed the SSA’s progress in completing that workload. The report, which focused on Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) and non-medical Supplemental Security Income (SSI) redeterminations, found that congressional appropriations have been consistently less than requested since 2002. As a result, program integrity workloads took a nosedive between 2003-2008, but have steadily increased since 2009 thanks to more funding.
The report suggests that the SSA misallocated resources in years of fiscal shortages, and did not funnel appropriate funding into program integrity efforts. The report also looked at a number of funding scenarios and how they might affect the status of CDRs and prevent another backlog from developing.
The OIG also reported on the SSA’s reduction in Field Office (FO) hours due to budget shortfalls. The SSA closed 30 FOs a half hour earlier each day in August of 2011, and then closed them an hour earlier in November of 2012. In January of 2013, the SSA added to the cuts and closed FOs every Wednesday at noon. It is important to note that even though FO doors are closed to the public during these times, SSA employees are still working in the offices in an effort to conduct administrative functions and reduce overtime costs.
According to the OIG’s report, the public was not aware of – and thus, in some cases, personally inconvenienced by – these reduced hours. More downsides to the cuts included longer wait times, crowding, and reduced appointment availability.