April 20, 2018
The Honorable Brian Higgins
1620 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Higgins:
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I write to endorse your legislation, H.R. 5431, the “Social Security Administration (SSA) Accountability Act of 2018.” The National Committee commends you for introducing this legislation, which establishes important new tools and safeguards which will strengthen substantially the ability of the Congress to exercise its oversight obligations regarding the administration of Social Security programs.
Included in the “Social Security Administration Accountability Act are the following administrative improvements:
- The Commissioner of Social Security would be required to prepare an annual budget estimate and to submit it simultaneously to both the President and the Congress.
- The budget request would include information regarding workloads pending in each of the agency’s hearing offices, such as the number of hearing requests pending, the average length of time required to adjudicate a case and each office’s staffing levels.
- The Commissioner would be required to consult with relevant program stakeholders, including the agency’s employees, when developing the comprehensive work force plans which serve as the basis for SSA’s budgetary requests. The agency would be required to submit the plan to the committees of jurisdiction within 90 days of their development.
- H.R. 5431 also establishes procedures for the Social Security Administration to follow when it proposes to close or consolidate any of the agency’s local field offices, including a temporary moratorium on all office closures until SSA has submitted a report to the Congress regarding its processes for office closures and consolidations.
For years SSA has conducted a campaign to close or consolidate field offices and to limit the hours during which offices are open to serve the public. The National Committee has frequently expressed concern about the impact of these closures and consolidations on the agency’s ability to serve those seniors who depend on the service SSA’s local offices provide.
The National Committee supports the provisions included in your bill, and gladly endorses the “Social Security Administration Accountability Act of 2018.” This bill represents a bold step in protecting SSA’s field office structure which continues to serve as the backbone of the agency’s plans for serving the needs of America’s seniors.
President and CEO