Chairman Johnson Announces Hearing on the Challenges Facing the Next Commissioner of Social Security
Chairman Johnson Announces Hearing on the Challenges FacingU.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, today announced a hearing on the challenges facing the next Commissioner of Social Security. The hearing will take place on Friday, April 26, 2013, in B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
the Next Commissioner of Social Security
In announcing the hearing, Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) said, “Today, nearly 10,000 Americans sign up for retirement benefits every day. The recession coupled with a slow economic recovery has resulted in a wave of new disability claims, increased backlogs and growing wait times for a frustrated public. Moreover, the Disability Insurance program remains on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk” list. With ever increasing demands on Social Security, the time is now for bold and decisive leadership by the next Commissioner of Social Security. This hearing will lay the groundwork for the challenges facing the new Commissioner and strategies for how best to address them, in order to adequately meet the needs of the American people.”
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for delivering services that impact the lives of nearly every American. In fiscal year 2012, the SSA paid over 65 million people a total of more than $800 billion in retirement, survivors, disability, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. During the same year, the SSA processed over 5 million retirement and survivor applications and 3.2 million disability applications, posted 245 million earnings items to workers’ records, assisted nearly 45 million visitors at their local offices, and completed more than 56 million transactions on their National 800 number. In addition to serving the public, the SSA completed 443,000 medical continuing disability reviews and 2.6 million SSI redeterminations as part of its program integrity work.
As the nation ages, the SSA will continue to face unprecedented service delivery demands even as it moves to automate many of its core functions. With Congress and the President agreeing on nearly static annual SSA budgets for the last three years, along with tight budgetary caps for future federal agency spending, the SSA has reached a crossroad in terms of how it will continue to deliver services to the public in a constrained fiscal environment.
In response, the SSA is already operating under a self-imposed hiring freeze for the last 2.5 years and has reduced the hours its offices are open to the public. At the same time, the agency has significantly increased online services, where today 45 percent of retirement applications and 33 percent of disability applications are being filed on line.
In March 2011, the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB) issued a report, “A Vision of the Future for the Social Security Administration” criticizing the lack of strategic planning by SSA. To meet its mission, the SSAB urged the agency to prepare itself to manage its current and future mission-related objectives, including critical post-entitlement and program integrity activities, and efficiently use existing financial and other resources to balance its service delivery policies with its stewardship responsibilities.
The SSA will be led by a new Commissioner once the President chooses his nominee and the Senate completes its confirmation process. Former Commissioner Michael J. Astrue’s six-year term expired in January 2013. Carolyn Colvin, who served as the Deputy Commissioner, is currently serving as Acting Commissioner until a new Commissioner is confirmed.
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