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Capitol Correspondence - 05.04.21

Social Security Administration Pleads for More Funding

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Because many people with disabilities rely on Social Security Disability Income benefits, we flag this article by Politico Pro to keep our members who advocate on Social Security issues aware of financial challenges facing the industry.

In a letter Monday, Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul broke down the ‘unprecedented’ challenges facing the agency, including processing backlogs and frozen or delayed hiring plans impeding the release of more than $1 trillion in annual benefits.

‘We have explored all possibilities to eliminate our budget shortfall but we are unable to overcome it,’ Saul wrote to Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.

‘I have no other option but to delay our planned hiring to operate within our appropriated resources,’ he said. ‘Further, we will not be able to compensate for fewer employees with additional overtime. We are operating with the lowest level of overtime in the last decade. These decisions have a lasting negative impact on the service we can provide to the American public.’

Current funding constraints: Congress gave the agency about $12.9 billion this fiscal year, or $900 million less than what Saul requested.

‘It is effectively level with the funding we have received for each of the last four years, despite significant increases in costs that we do not control — such as the Government-wide pay increases,’ he wrote.

Without a significant increase in fiscal 2022, which begins on Oct. 1, SSA will struggle to fully recover from the pandemic, the commissioner said.

What Biden’s budget proposes: Saul said he appreciates the $14.2 billion President Joe Biden has proposed for fiscal 2022, a $1.3 billion or 10 percent increase.

‘No one anticipated the duration of the pandemic and the ongoing challenges it presents,’ he wrote this week. ‘I hope you will consider these challenges and support his request to help us improve service.’”