Social Security Administration Official Asks for More Funding

Social Security Administration Official Asks for More Funding

This month, Jeff Nesbit, the Deputy Commissioner for Communications for the Social Security Administration, authored a “Dear Colleague” letter asking for funding in order to “provide timely and quality service.”


For the last few years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been calling for more money to carry out its administrative duties. Earlier this year, the agency said it wanted to hire 4,000 more workers. 

“Our customers are waiting an unacceptable length of time to get their cases adjudicated and that’s in large part due to our understaffing,” Grace Kim, SSA’s deputy commissioner for operations, said in congressional testimony in May. “We don’t have hiring. We need overtime and we need proper investment in our IT. Those are the three key areas that need to be funded in order for us to carry out our mission, and do it in a way that does not burn out our employees,” Kim added. 


This month, Jeff Nesbit, the Deputy Commissioner for Communications for the Social Security Administration, authored a “Dear Colleague” letter asking for funding in order to “provide timely and quality service.”

“Our employees demonstrate an unwavering commitment to serving the millions of people who turn to us for assistance each year,” the letter said. “However, we cannot keep up with the demand for service and our annual fixed cost increases. As a result, the public is experiencing delays in service and long waits for disability decisions. We need additional funding to deliver the service the public deserves and expects.”

Because the next fiscal year will start in October with a continuing resolution, SSA would be in a position to have the same funding as last year. But per the letter, the agency wants more than that. 

“The Administration asked Congress for a CR anomaly that would provide us with $800 million over our FY 2022 funding level. This anomaly would allow us to maintain our current service levels without further deterioration while Congress makes final decisions on government-wide funding levels for FY 2023,” the letter said. 

“Our agency is now at its lowest staffing level in 25 years. Prior to the pandemic, we had approximately 60,000 employees. Now, we have approximately 56,000 employees – a 7 percent drop. As we lose employees, our service deteriorates. This issue is particularly acute in our State disability determination services (DDS), where we decide initial disability claims and reconsiderations, due to historically high attrition as workloads become less reasonable with fewer staff.’

The letter also tied the long lines faced by recipients to the lack of funding. “Without sufficient funds to hire the level of staffing needed, we are experiencing growing backlogs and lengthy delays that cause significant financial hardship for the most vulnerable people. We have a knowledgeable, dedicated, and talented workforce that administers our complex programs,” the letter said. 

“Our employees strive to provide compassionate and timely service and are indispensable in helping us tackle ever-growing workloads but cannot do so without a budget that allows for significant improvement. 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.