NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Management Problems At The Social Security Administration

February 20, 2001

The Social Security Administration is increasingly unable to serve the American people as it should, warns the Social Security Advisory Board, a bipartisan panel of seven experts. The panel lays part of the blame on inadequate staffing at a time when millions of baby boomers are nearing retirement.

  • In two reports to be issued this month, the panel says the agency is swamped with a backlog of claims and litigation, that beneficiaries must wait two to four hours for assistance at many offices and that accurate information often cannot be obtained by telephone.
  • Eligibility decisions are not made in a uniform or consistent manner and two-thirds of the people who challenge the denial of disability benefits prevail on appeal.
  • There are delays in payment of benefits and payments of incorrect benefits, the reports say.
  • The number of Social Security employees has dropped 22 percent in the last 15 years, but the number of Social Security beneficiaries has increased by 26 percent.

A SSA spokeswoman admits the agency "has a huge problem." She notes that many of the agency's most experienced managers, supervisors and claims representatives will be retiring in the next 10 years -- just as the workload surges.

Source: Robert Pear, "Federal Panel Warns Bush of Social Security Problems," New York Times, February 19, 2001.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues