The Honorable Charles Schumer                                The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Democratic Leader                                                        Republican Leader
United States Senate                                                      United States Senate
Washington, D.C.  20510                                              Washington, D.C.  20510

The Honorable Patty Murray                                       The Honorable Susan Collins
Chair                                                                                 Vice Chair
Committee on Appropriations                                     Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate                                                      United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                               Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Tammy Baldwin                                 The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito
Chair                                                                                 Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor,                                               Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services,                                        Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies                                Education, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations                                     Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate                                                      United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                               Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Democratic Leader Schumer, Republican Leader McConnell, Chairs Murray and Baldwin, Vice Chair Collins, and Ranking Member Capito:

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 include the additional $727 million in funding requested by the Administration for the Social Security Administration (SSA) in a future Continuing Resolution (CR) for fiscal year (FY) 2024, or in any other appropriate legislative vehicle.  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 any temporary appropriations legislation is challenging, but the deterioration of service delivery at the Social Security Administration if additional funds are not provided fully justifies this funding.  The Administration requested a $727 million CR anomaly for FY 2024, which would bring SSA to an annualized funding level of $14.854 billion. The anomaly level of funding would help prevent further service deterioration by maintaining staffing levels, increasing processing capacity through overtime, and funding critical IT enhancements.

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 left SSA with its lowest levels of staffing in 25 years at the end of FY 2022, which contributed to significant problems recruiting and retaining new staff.  Without the anomaly, SSA will have to reduce staffing and overtime, which will negatively affect customer service.  SSA’s customers will wait significantly longer for field office services, disability decisions, and phone support, and their already significant backlogs would increase.  The average wait time for an initial disability decision would increase by at least one additional month to eight months, double the average wait time in FY 2019.

The agency’s plan to eliminate the hearings backlog in FY 2024 will also be in jeopardy. The effects of staff losses will be magnified by reduced technology investments that help SSA’s employees handle work more efficiently, improve quality, or provide the public with self-service options.  SSA would also have to reduce funding for their core information technology (IT) infrastructure, risking support of operations.

To be specific, without the anomaly, SSA would return to 25-year staffing lows at the end of FY 2024.  The agency will not be able to replace 5,200 departing SSA and State Disability Determination Services (DDS) employees in FY 2024.  They will be forced to cut overtime levels by over 30 percent and for the DDSs by 75 percent, reducing one of SSA’s most important tools for supporting offices experiencing staffing shortages.  SSA requires additional funding over FY 2023 just to cover the increased cost of paying employees who are currently on duty, including absorbing the anticipated 5.2 percent pay increase set to take effect January 2024.  Further, SSA’s annual fixed costs increase by $600 to $700 million each year.  These fixed costs include salaries, rent, guards’ services, the cost of medical evidence, and all other costs required to provide service to customers in more than 1,500 field and hearings offices across the country, as well as the State Disability Determination Services.

The anomaly would allow SSA to avoid worsening the existing service crisis. While ultimately,

SSA needs sustained, sufficient funding to improve service to the public, the anomaly level would at least allow the agency to sustain service by maintaining FY 2023 staffing levels and critical IT investments.

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 an anomaly of $727 million for administrative expenses in any temporary funding bill.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to ensure sustained investment in programs and agencies crucial to seniors.


Max Richtman
President and CEO