Here's What You Need to Remember: The House Ways and Means Committee, in a separate letter, wrote: “Some of our most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities, including veterans who served our country with honor, are unable to pay for basic necessities while they wait for their overdue payments.”
According to the agency, that cash is much needed as it is slated to pay out more than $1.2 trillion in both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In 2022, there will be an estimated seventy-four million beneficiaries of the benefits.
In addition to the disbursement of the funds, SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul noted that the extra money would help improve customer service and reduce wait times and backlogs.
“The President’s budget will allow us to begin recovering from the coronavirus pandemic disruptions, building on the lessons we learned to become a stronger and more responsive agency,” he said in the agency’s budget overview.
“(It) will support our efforts to improve service and our customers’ experience by reducing wait times and backlogs, supporting outreach to vulnerable populations who may be eligible for our programs, and investing in our information technology (IT) modernization efforts. It will also support our stewardship responsibilities by funding our cost-effective program integrity workloads,” he added.
Saul expanded on the importance of becoming more technologically savvy.
“These improvements will provide the public with additional service options that do not require them to visit a field office or call our National 800 Number. By providing more convenient online options for people who can use them, we can focus on the more complex cases and individuals who need in-person help,” he said.
The SSA’s shortcomings were apparent during the early stages of the disbursement of stimulus checks under Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. During that time, millions of Social Security and SSI recipients in urgent need of financial assistance expressed frustration over the fact that they weren’t able to get their hands on the $1,400 payments for weeks.
The reason was mainly due to the SSA itself, according to a letter from the House Ways and Means Committee to the benefits agency. It asserted that roughly thirty million Social Security recipients were sitting empty-handed because the SSA didn’t turn over the necessary payment information to the Internal Revenue Service in a timely manner.
“We understand that these beneficiaries are waiting because the Social Security Administration has not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service,” Reps. Richard Neal, John Larson, Bill Pascrell, and Danny Davis wrote in the letter.
The House Ways and Means Committee, in a separate letter, wrote: “Some of our most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities, including veterans who served our country with honor, are unable to pay for basic necessities while they wait for their overdue payments.”
Saul responded by saying that the SSA was initially limited in how much it could progress based on how its role is defined by the Social Security Act and the terms outlined in Biden’s stimulus bill. “Once we were free to move forward, we aggressively worked with Treasury and IRS to issue payments,” he said in a statement.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn. This article first appeared earlier this year.