, 2023-04-12 11:59:54,
The country’s biggest federal employee union issued a dire warning this week about the state of the Social Security Administration, saying the agency is understaffed and underfunded to the point where it faces a “crisis” that could lead to even worse delays in getting benefits to millions of recipients.
The warning came on Monday during a panel hosted by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents more than 40,000 Social Security Administration employees, CNBC reported.
During the panel discussion, AFGE Council 215 President Rich Couture said the SSA “is in the midst of the worst public service crisis in memory caused by historic levels of employee attrition due to uncompetitive pay and benefits, exceedingly low employee morale, and overwhelming workloads.”
Staffing levels at the SSA are at a 25-year low even as the number of beneficiaries continues to grow with the retirement of baby boomers. The number of beneficiaries is expected to increase 25% in 2023 alone, according to the Government Executive website.
The lack of staffing has already led to long wait times for beneficiaries seeking customer service help at the SSA. This became a major problem during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when field offices were forced to close and many staffers left the agency. Even with offices open again, callers seeking help might face hold times of 30 minutes or more, the AFGE said.
Things aren’t likely to improve anytime soon. As previously reported by GOBankingRates, the AARP said customer service at the SSA “is going to get worse before it gets better” unless the agency gets more funding from Congress.
The AARP warning was in response to the fiscal year 2023 operating plan the SSA submitted to Congress on Feb. 10. The FY 2023 Social Security outlay of $14.1 billion represents an increase of about $785 million from the FY 2022 budget of $13.34 billion but was less than the $14.8 billion President Joe Biden requested.
“We must address the significant number of people who are waiting too long for important disability decisions at all levels of the disability process,” SSA Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi wrote in a February letter to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the appropriations committee. “In particular, we share…
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