Budget Update In March SSA Newsletter

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Along with other articles, the current Social Security Update has highlights from the March 14, 2013, testimony before Congress by Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security.  

Her testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, discussed service delivery challenges facing the agency including budget issues, related to and separate from sequestration. Read her full testimony at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/legislation/testimony_031413.html.

In her testimony, Ms. Colvin noted services provided by the Social Security Administration in Fiscal Year 2012. In part, she said:

Few government agencies touch as many people as we do. The programs we administer provide a financial safety net for millions of Americans, and many consider them the most successful large-scale Federal programs in our Nation’s history. The responsibilities with which we have been entrusted are significant. In FY 2012, we:

· Paid over $800 billion to almost 65 million beneficiaries;
· Handled over 56 million transactions on our National 800 Number Network;
· Received over 65 million calls to field offices nationwide;
· Served about 45 million visitors in over 1,200 field offices nationwide;
· Completed over 8 million claims for benefits and 820,000 hearing dispositions;
· Handled almost 25 million changes to beneficiary records;
· Issued about 17 million new and replacement Social Security cards;
· Posted over 245 million wage reports;
· Handled over 15,000 disability cases in Federal District Courts;
· Completed over 443,000 full medical continuing disability reviews (CDR); and
· Completed over 2.6 million non-medical redeterminations of SSI eligibility.”

Also within her testimony, Ms. Colvin stated ongoing budget driven challenges facing the agency, related to and separate from sequestration.  In part, she said:

“The current budget situation is exacerbating the negative effects of over two straight years of funding levels nearly a billion dollars below the President’s budget requests. With fewer employees to serve our customers, we are seeing serious signs of service deterioration. Examples include:

– This week, close to 12,000 visitors to our field offices will have to wait over 2 hours to be served, a figure that has almost tripled in just the last 4 months;

-The average wait time for field office visitors without an appointment increasing by 40 percent, from just 21 minutes in FY 2010 to about 30 minutes through January of FY 2013;

-Our 800-number average busy rate increasing from 4.6 percent of all calls in FY 2010 (which equates to 2.6 million calls) to about 15 percent of all calls through January of FY 2013 (which equates to 3.3 million calls and puts us on-pace for a projected 10.5 million calls for FY 2013); and

-Our average speed of answer for the 800-number more than doubling from about 3.5 minutes in FY 2010 to over 7.5 minutes through January of FY 2013.”

Several articles are in Social Security Update each month. Read and subscribe to this free electronic newsletter at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/newsletter/.