The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has addressed concern over the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) ability to offer satisfactory service in the wake of a significant increase in retirement and disability filings and what will be a wave of retiring staff.

According to the SSA, retirement and disability filings will increase the agency’s work by about 1 million annual claims by 2017. The agency projects 44 percent of its staff will retire by 2016.

The GAO, in a report filed to the Senate Committee on Finance said the SSA published its new strategic plan in September 2008, which calls for SSA to “eliminate the backlog of disability hearings and increase online retirement filings to 50 percent of applications. While discussing the plan with us, SSA officials noted that it is not intended to be a service delivery plan detailing how the agency will address the service needs of the retiring baby boom generation. While the plan includes the goal of significantly expanding the use of electronic services, it is not clear how this will mitigate the increasing SSA workload.”

The GAO is recommending the SSA develop a service delivery plan outlining how it intends on delivering quality service while managing growing work demands and constrained resources

In response, according to GAO, “SSA stated that it has intensive planning efforts in place, but agreed to develop a single planning document that describes service delivery and staffing plans.”

Highlights of the GAO’s report can be found here.