The Social Security Administration (SSA) helps Americans live and retire with dignity and freedom, yet this important agency has been deprived of the funding it needs to carry out its civic tasks. AFGE and 34 other organizations, including Paralyzed Veterans of America, are calling on the Obama administration to request full funding for SSA – or at least $12.7 billion for fiscal 2016.
“This level of funding is necessary to respond to the increased requests for assistance from the American public due in large part to the aging baby boomer generation,” the coalition said in a letter to Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, which puts together budget proposals. “Without adequate funding, SSA will not be able to carry out its core mission of delivering critical Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public.”
SSA has closed 53 field offices and 520 contact stations, leaving only 15 contact stations remaining nationwide. It also cancelled plans to open eight new hearing offices and a new teleservice center due to budget cuts. The growing backlog is increasingly problematic. Because of severe understaffing, the average processing time has gone up and people have to wait for more than a year – 422 days – to get a decision on whether their application has been approved. SSA has lost nearly 5,000 workers because of budget cuts. It had 68,422 employees at the end of fiscal 2010, compared to 63,657 this year. SSA is expected to lose even more of its assets as 11,000 employees will retire in the next four years. If this trend is allowed to continue, every American who retires may lose their earned income that they have set aside to use in retirement. When there is nobody to process your retirement check, you don’t get your retirement check.