Social Security is Overstressed, Underfunded and Underperforming

“It is like a disaster here. We can’t do the work we are getting,” said
Witold Skwierczynski, an officer of the American Federation of Government Employees
who specializes in Social Security field operations.Social Security staffing will have declined by 4,000 positions over two years ending Oct. 1, and the proposed congressional funding should allow the agency to hire 1,000 employees in the next year, Warsinskey said.

In July 25th’s Washington Post, Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said that years of inadequate funding is the cause of staffing and workload
problems. The drop in staffing and budget constraints have led to crowded waiting
rooms and jammed telephone lines at many field offices. For every two field
employees who retire or quit, Social Security replaces one…

But the new hires would make only a small dent in the workload. The agency
has a huge backlog of disability claims, with some applicants waiting three
or four years for decisions, Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.) said during a
House floor discussion of Social Security funding.

Employees also have been given extra work by Congress, such as making
Medicare subsidy determinations for prescription drugs and imposing tighter
requirements for obtaining or replacing Social Security cards.

That is on top of the agency’s regular workload. On average, about 850,000
people visit field offices each week, and some wait two to three hours for
help. About 68 million phone calls pour into the field offices each year,
overwhelming employees in thinly staffed offices, Warsinskey said.

Partly because of budget constraints, Social Security is closing field
offices that serve areas with stable or shrinking populations. Offices are
closing in many areas. Link to Post here

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