Hidden away in this year’s budget package, Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing a $1.7 billion cut to the Social Security Administration (SSA). If carried out, the budget cut will not only undermine Social Security’s promise to pay every American the benefits they have earned – it will also make Social Security less efficient and more prone to fraud.
The SSA is an extremely efficient program, with administrative costs at or below 1% of total expenditures. Funded at current levels, the organization has a number of very positive accomplishments under its belt: reduced average wait time for an appeal decision from 535 days in 2008 to 373 days in 2011; maintained service levels for beneficiaries despite a sharp increase in initial applications; and saved billions of dollars by identifying those no longer eligible for benefits.
But the budget proposal by House Republicans would likely reverse those gains, stall projects aimed at achieving further efficiency to offset the large influx of baby boomers, and cause up to four additional weeks of SSA office closures in 2011.
To determine the effects of the GOP plan on each state, the Democratic Staff of the House Ways and Means Committee put together a state-by-state analysis of the expected impacts. In Washington state alone, they estimate:
- 17,400 applications for Social Security benefits (retirement, disability, and survivor) will not be processed;
- 4,908 disabled workers will not be able to appeal their benefit denials;
- 18,895 babies won’t be assigned Social Security numbers;
- 67,479 people will go to the Social Security office for help and find the lights off and the doors locked;
- 44,560 people will call the Social Security office and get no answer.
Social Security benefits provide a critical lifeline to more than 1 million retired, disabled and widowed Washingtonians and their families. It helps keep our state economy rolling, injecting more than $1.1 billion in 2009 alone. Cutting the Social Security budget won’t save any money – it will result in longer wait times, fewer audits for fraud, and higher costs in the long-run.
You can see the full report on the proposed cuts, including impacts in other states, here.