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SOCIAL SECURITY IS IN CRISIS

10,000 AMERICANS ARE DYING EVERY YEAR

IT'S TIME TO RESTORE THE OPERATING BUDGET BACK TO 2010 LEVELS

THIS ALSO MEANS MEDICARE IS UNDER THREAT

 

(Source)


The current situation for Americans relying on social security is dire. 10,000 Americans die each year awaiting a decision on their disability appeals. (USA Facts, 2023) And 110,000 have died waiting for their social security disability benefits in the last decade. (Nextgov, 2020). The Social Security Administration (SSA) also handles Medicare enrollment and most inquiries over the phone. So cutting the operating budget for the SSA will also impact Medicare enrollment.

Social Security is at its lowest staffing level in 25 years.

Current wait times are at their worst level in 14 years. The average wait time to hear back about a claim is 6 months. Many have had to wait a year. Nearly half of all calls go unanswered. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2022). Operations that review claims are facing massive backlogs. In 2022, over 1 million disability claims were pending at state disability determination service agencies (including claims at both the initial and reconsideration level).

This is a direct threat against the lives of American people. Thousands of Americans are literally being left to die.

The President's 2024 fiscal year budget has authorized an increase of $1.4 billion to Social Security's budget. This represents an increase in 10% from the 2023 enacted level. This is not adequate, but an increase is better than no action at all.

Social Security offices have hit their breaking point. While the number of people who need social security has dramatically increased, both staffing and funding (accounting for inflation) have decreased since 2010.

Since 2010, the Social Security Administration’s operating budget has shrunk 17 percent counting inflation, and its staff by 13 percent. Thousands of staff members were lost during the pandemic, field offices were closed, while workloads increased. An estimated 8,000 applicants file for bankruptcy each year while awaiting a decision. (USA Facts, 2023)

The President's 2024 Fiscal Year Budget (PDF)

Social Security Commissioner Letter - February 10, 23 (PDF) Acting Social Security commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said she expects already significant delays in disability benefits claims and phone assistance to worsen.

AARP Letter to the Social Security Administration Requesting Shorter Wait Times and Improve Service (PDF)

Social Security Budget Estimates

Social Security services to degrade further this year despite budget boost, agency's acting head says (Washington Post, 2-18-23)

Social Security is in Crisis (USA Facts, 1-12-23)

Policymakers Must Act to Address Social Security Service Crisis (Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, 5-26-22)

110,000 Americans Have Died Waiting for Benefits (Nextgov, 8-28-20)


SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSIONER SAYS 2022 OPERATING BUDGET IS FAR BELOW WHAT IS NEEDED

The Social Security Administration’s already faltering services will further erode this year despite a $785 million increase approved for its budget, the agency’s acting head has told lawmakers. This was not really an increase. This amount doesn't even account for inflation, and because of this, the amount is more like a cut.

$14 Billion is what was requested in Biden's 2023 fiscal year budget. The enacted appropriation ended up being $645 million less than what was requested.

In a letter sent February 10, 2023, to leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees, acting Social Security commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said she expects already significant delays in disability benefits claims and phone assistance to worsen.

Social Security Commissioner Letter - February 10, 23 PDF

Read Social Security Commissioner Letter above


MEDICARE AND THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

To enroll in Medicare, people call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or visit their website. The SSA representatives can help you with the Medicare enrollment process and answer your questions about Medicare eligibility, coverage, premiums, and other related issues.

It's worth noting that there is a separate phone line for Medicare questions and support, which is available at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). This line is operated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which is the federal agency that oversees the Medicare program.

The Social Security Administration

Medicare.Gov


THE AARP DESCRIBES HISTORICALLY HIGH WAIT TIMES AND BROKEN SERVICES

Recently the AARP has written a letter to the Social Security Administration requesting that they shorten wait times and improve service now that Congress and the Biden Administration has approved a $785 million budget increase for the agency.

AARP members sent Congress more than 200,000 emails last year urging it to approve more funding for customer service issues amid historically high wait times and a backlog in disability claims. The agency primarily blamed the delays on years of under-staffing and insufficient funds.

Problems have picked up since the advent of Covid 19. Field offices had been shut down for two years since the start of the pandemic. Customers complained of long lines at offices, and busy signals and dropped calls when trying to get through on the national toll-free number.

“Millions of older Americans, people with disabilities, and their families rely on Social Security, and they deserve to receive timely and accurate assistance from the agency,” wrote AARP Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy A. LeaMond.


AFGE CALLS FOR SOCIAL SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS AT UNION RALLY

SOCIAL SECURITY IS FACING A 25-YEAR LOW IN STAFFING LEVELS

"Staffing is now at its lowest level in 25 years; SSA lost 4,000 employees during the pandemic, a 7 percent decline, because budget shortfalls forced it to freeze hiring. And as noted, it also expects to lose nearly 6,000 SSA and disability determination service employees in fiscal year 2023 — employees that SSA won’t be able to replace if it is under another hiring freeze." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

AFGE heightened calls for major Social Security workforce improvements at a union rally in October 26th, 2022.

“SSA cannot serve the public without a quality workforce,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said at the rally. “It should be no surprise to any of us that despite all of the efforts of AFGE, there are growing backlogs in the field, more service delays on the 800 numbers and a long line at the field offices across the country. We’re here today to say, ‘enough is enough.’”

Between March and August of 2022, Social Security lost 1,000 field office workers nationwide. And the problem is about to get worse — according to a recent AFGE-distributed survey, 4 in 10 Social Security employees said they plan to leave the agency within the next year. (Federal News Network)


SOCIAL SECURITY BUDGET

The President's 2024 Fiscal Year Budget (PDF)

Social Security Budget Estimates


KEY GROUPS FIGHTING TO RESTORE SOCIAL SECURITY BUDGET CUTS

Social Security Works          Center on Budget and Policy Priorities  

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare           American Federation of Government Employees

AARP


RESTORING SOCIAL SECURITY BUDGET CUTS

Ex-heads of U.S. Social Security Administration offer plan to fix agency's customer service (Reuters, 6-5-19)

Let's Get Congress Off Social Security's Back (Forbes, 6-11-19)