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Social Security Update – June 2006

Published on May 12th, 2006

On May 11, 2006, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing to examine service delivery challenges facing the Social Security Administration. The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) provided a written statement to discuss the traditional and non-traditional services provided by the SSA. She noted that electronic filing and a disability service improvement process are the key parts of her effort to improve service to disability claimants. She also described eWork, a program which will allow for improved coordination in the recording of earnings information with the intent of reducing overpayments to disabled persons.

Most of the questions from the House Ways & Means Social Security Sub-Committee members focused on whether the Social Security Administration has adequate resources to carry out all of its responsibilities. Over the past few years, Congress has cut the proposed SSA budget submitted by the President. The Commissioner testified that if SSA had received the amounts in the proposed budget, she would have been able to accomplish all items in her service delivery budget including eliminating backlogs at hearing offices and state agencies.

Whatever the cause, unfortunately backlogs continue to grow at hearing offices. Field office service has suffered as staff replacement rate has been limited to one new employee for every three who leave. Whether these new electronic changes are enough to improve service remains to be seen.

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