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SSA Sounds the Alarm on Service Issues

In a commentary piece today on the Portland Press Herald website, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO Everett Kelley provides a recap of the staffing crisis faced by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the service implications faced by the agency’s millions of clients. Quoting Acting Social Security Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi, Kelley suggests that SSA’s current funding levels “are not sufficient to make the improvements we had hoped to be able to make and predicted that the average processing time for disability benefit claims would get longer as the agency works through the backlog.” Echoing the concerns, the Center on Budget and Policy PrioritiesKelley indicates that “it now takes seven months to get an initial appointment with the SSA, and data indicates that “more than half of customer service calls go unanswered, and there are 4.2 million backlogged actions.”

Kelley’s article, which you can read in full here, also notes that while Social Security’s beneficiaries increased by 21% between 2020 and 2021, the agency’s workforce shrunk by 13% and SSA’s overall budget was reduced by 17%. He closes his post with this plea, “It’s time for Congress to stop starving Social Security of the resources it needs to serve the public efficiently and effectively. SSA leaders must partner with the union to address deteriorating working conditions before more skilled employees walk out the door.”

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