September 23, 2004
Kurt Gallagher
(202) 639-6491

Social Security, Medicare Services At Risk; More Staff Needed Says National Social Security Council

(WASHINGTON)—The quality of Social Security and Medicare services will be put at risk because the Social Security Administration (SSA) has failed to provide adequate staffing levels to accommodate the increased workload required to administer the Medicare prescription drug program, said National Social Security Council president Witold Skwierczynski.

The Social Security Administration, which administers Medicare as well as Social Security, has not yet taken any steps to increase the SSA workforce despite the fact that the enrollment period for the new prescription drug program is about to begin.

Skwierczynski estimates that thousands of new employees will be needed to handle the increased workload. Because Social Security and Medicare employees undergo extensive training spanning, it will be years before new staff will contribute effectively to the workload.

"SSA and Medicare employees see what's really happening inside government and we're not afraid to speak out when we witness things that are wrong," said Skwierczynski. "Federal employees perform an inherently government function as stewards of these essential programs. We know that the most vulnerable members of our society, those who rely on survivorship benefits or disability payments, will be stretched to the limit as they are forced to wait longer periods for their benefits because SSA has failed to deal with the increased workload."

The National Social Security Council is a division of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). The Council recently held a press briefing on the issue of inadequate staffing levels at SSA.

The American Federation of Government Employees is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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