Social Security budget cuts cause long waits, poor service

Social Security Wait The public waits in line at a Social Security office

President Trump has pledged not to cut Social Security benefits, but beneficiaries are already suffering due to cuts in the operating budget of the Social Security Administration (SSA).

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the core operating budget of the SSA has been reduced by 10 percent, adjusted for inflation, since 2010. These budget cuts affect beneficiaries, most dramatically in the long wait for disability hearings. In 2016, the number of people waiting for a hearing to determine their eligibility for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits rose above 1 million, and the average wait time for a hearing increased from 360 days in 2011 to 540 days in 2016.

The Office of the Inspector General of the SSA released a report last month that showed that the average wait time in local field offices increased from 19 minutes in fiscal year 2010 to 26 minutes in 2015. About 4.5 million people — more than 11 percent of visitors — waited one hour or more at a field office in 2015. That’s up from 2.3 million people waiting an hour or more in 2010. The wait times increased even as the number of people visiting field offices decreased. Social Security staff also must handle telephone and online inquiries. The agency is chronically underfunded for its administrative work and needs to hire more staff members to meet the public need. Unfortunately, exactly the opposite is in store.

On Jan. 23, President Trump ordered a hiring freeze for the federal government, except for military, public safety and national security positions, saying that this was a temporary measure until a plan is formulated to reduce federal employment through attrition. Cutting Social Security’s workforce will only add to the problem of long waits and poor service that many beneficiaries are seeing.

The President and Congress need to know that pledging not to cut Social Security benefits is not enough. Benefits need to be expanded, and the SSA needs to be properly funded so that the public can receive needed services and disability hearings can be held in a timely manner.

2 Comments on Social Security budget cuts cause long waits, poor service

  1. But some of the wait time you are saying isn’t across the board. Here where I live. You have a appointment you are seen at that time. And as far as hearings go. Personally I think alot has to do with the Attorney. We have some great attorneys and then we have some that aren’t that good for some reason or another. Unlike you who does actually care about people, they are in it for the money (sorry) but true. Lets hope that this freeze the President put forth will give them the time they need to come up with a solution that both sides can live with. Praying for us.

  2. TR MILLER Member: American Legion Post #155 // February 25, 2017 at 11:19 pm // Reply

    Insightful ~ thanks

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