* a copy of this letter was also sent to the House of Representatives
September 27, 2022
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to ask that you support the additional $400 million in funding for the Social Security Administration (SSA) for fiscal year (FY) 2023 included in H.R. 6833, the Continuing Resolution (CR). Members of the National Committee come from all walks of life and every political persuasion. What unites them is their passion for protecting and strengthening Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the other programs that are so vitally important to older Americans.
We understand including anomalies in a Continuing Resolution is challenging, but the deterioration of service delivery at the Social Security Administration if additional funds are not provided fully justifies this funding. In fact, we are seriously disappointed that the Administration’s full $800 million request was not included and hope that additional funds will be provided when Congress considers appropriations for the remainder of the Fiscal Year.
Unfortunately, SSA has been seriously underfunded for many years. From 2010 to 2021, SSA’s operating budget declined by about 13 percent after inflation, while the number of beneficiaries rose by 21 percent, primarily as a result of the growth in new retirement beneficiaries as the baby boom generation reached retirement age. The result has been significant and growing backlogs of work, especially in the disability offices where thousands of applicants die every year waiting for their appeals to receive a hearing. The ongoing funding shortfalls are especially frustrating when one considers that the source of funding for SSA’s operations comes from the Social Security Trust Funds themselves, not general revenue – and that contributions from American workers have built up a $2.852 trillion surplus in these accounts, in addition to about $1 trillion received in Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) contributions each year.
The budget cuts have left SSA with its lowest levels of staffing in 25 years and contributed to significant problems recruiting and retaining new staff. Even with the $400 million provided in the CR, the Agency will not have sufficient funding to even cover basic inflationary costs, let alone provide the level of service Congress and the American people expect from this critical agency.
The Agency and its employees have done an extraordinary job of making the most effective use of the dollars they have been appropriated, however, there is only so far SSA can go without a meaningful infusion of resources. This critical lifeline for millions of Americans must not be allowed to wither on the vine. Congress must provide adequate funding for this foundation of support for workers and their families. This funding must begin with approval of the additional $400 million for administrative expenses included in the Continuing Resolution.
Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to ensure sustained investment in programs and agencies crucial to seniors.
President and CEO