The Social Security Administration warned Friday that “drastic funding cuts” proposed by the House would dramatically impact service to seniors and other beneficiaries and “needlessly” waste taxpayer dollars.
In response to an inquiry from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue outlined in a letter to Baucus how the House Budget would force the Social Security Administration to scale back operating hours at field offices across the country. The result, Astrue said, would be “long delays and deteriorations in service” to seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries.
“It is critically important that we work to preserve Social Security and protect its beneficiaries and save taxpayer dollars,” Baucus said in a statement the same day. “The House’s radical plan does nothing more than threaten America’s seniors by undermining this critical safety net and severely cuts programs that help the federal budget.”
While Baucus noted that a Senate proposal increases SSA funding levels next year, the House bill, he said, cuts $762 million from the agency’s current budget. According to SSA, “the cuts in the House bill would increase the average wait time for disability decisions and hearing decisions by as much as two weeks and forgo up to $6 billion in budget savings.”
“This severe cut would force us to curtail our service to the public and our program integrity efforts,” Astrue writes to Baucus (at left). “The backlog of initial disability claims would continue to increase and our hearings backlog reduction plan would be derailed. There would be long waits in our field offices and on our 800-number because of inadequate staff to address critical public service needs.”
According to SSA:
- The House Budget would cut 5,000 jobs at the Social Security Administration.
- The House Budget would cut Social Security field office hours and delay more than 30,000 people with Social Security claims from getting the support they need.
- Compared to the Senate Budget, the House Budget would force thousands with Social Security claims to wait two additional weeks to get the service they need and create a backlog of 100,000 claims and 100,000 hearings.
- The House Budget would cost taxpayers $5 billion to $6 billion by cutting a program that fights fraud and reduces waste.