Recent Congressional Hearings
This past June and July, Congress held a number of hearings related to the Social Security Administration (SSA). What follows is a brief rundown of each hearing:
*On June 18, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on SSA field office (FO) closures and service cuts. Since 2010, the SSA has closed 64 FOs and 533 mobile offices due to budget shortages. The shortages have also resulted in a loss of 11,000 SSA employees. Committee Chairman Bill Nelson of Florida and ranking Minority Member Sen. Susan Collins of Maine were upset that the SSA took these measures with little notice to Congress or communication with communities impacted by the cuts.
*On July 24, the Senate Finance Committee convened under Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon to explore the state of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Those in attendance included SSA Chief Actuary Stephen Goss, SSA Acting Deputy Commissioner Marianna LaCanfora, and Richard Burkhauser of the American Enterprise Institute. The content of the hearing was redundant, as much of it has been discussed in previous House Hearings. Topics covered included the growth of the SSDI rolls, criteria for qualifying for disability benefits, and how the U.S. stacks up to other countries in terms of disability benefits programs.
*On July 29, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on American workers’ retirement readiness. There was some friction between Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Ranking Member Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) over the one witness, a Social Security Administration Trustee, with well-known political leanings. Rep. Johnson noted, “[i]n the disability program many pay lawyers to help them receive disability benefits while others are paying financial planners to help them figure out retirement benefits.” The hearing occurred just a day after the SSA Board of Trustees released its 2014 report on the health of the Social Security Trust Funds.
More information about all of these hearings is available on the official U.S. House of Representatives and Senate websites.