Back in June, I reported for Just Care that Congress was keeping the Social Security Administration from spending its own money to administer benefits effectively. As a result, SSA was going to need to cut critical services. If that wasn’t bad enough, Kathleen Romig of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that there’s now a bill before the U.S. House of Representatives that calls for new cuts for the Social Security Administration in 2017.
Since 2010, Congress has cut SSA’s core operating budget by 10 percent, after inflation, to the detriment of people needing help with their Social Security benefits. The $100 million in new cuts proposed for SSA by the House Appropriations Committee would further hurt customer service and program integrity.
If the proposed cuts pass, it would mean that SSA would need to implement a total hiring freeze, which could:
- Delay decisions on disability benefit appeals; the wait is already 540 days, up from 360 in 2010, or
- Keep Social Security from hiring replacement staff as people retired or left, or
- Require Social Security to furlough staff for one to two weeks and close its 1,245 offices in the process; 600 field offices have been forced to close since 2010, or
- Further cut field office hours for the public, which are already cut back to a half-day on Wednesday and a 4 p.m. close every other day, or
- Reduce staffing on the Social Security 1-800 number, meaning longer hold times for the public; hold times already average 15 minutes and 10 percent of callers get busy signals, or
- Prevent modernization of Social Security’s computer systems
The bill does not increase funding for program integrity by $378 million as requested and as Congress previously had agreed to do, even though Social Security returns $8 for every $1 invested in its program integrity efforts.
If you agree that we need to expand Social Security, not make benefit or administrative cuts to it, sign this petition.