What does it mean now that Congress has passed a spending bill with a funding increase for the Social Security Administration?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has faced funding difficulties for quite some time. Some estimates indicate the Administration saw an 11% cut since 2010 after adjusting for inflation. Over this time the number of retirement and disability beneficiaries is reported to have increased by approximately 7 million individuals. The years of inadequate funding combined with increasing workloads contributed to delays in claim processing across Social Security’s components, most notably the well-publicized backlog of claimant’s awaiting disability hearings.

The new spending bill provides SSA with a $396 million increase from the previous year’s budget while also relaxing the minimum amount dedicated to program integrity measures by $84 million; effectively increasing administrative funding by $480 million. This increase will allow SSA to more aggressively pursue their Compassionate and Responsive Services (CARES) plan, which aims to achieve a “reasonable level of hearings cases pending.” The bill specifies that $280 million be directed to IT modernization with $100 million directed at the hearing backlog itself.

SSA’s total FY 2018 budget exceeds $12 billion. While the FY 2018 increase is a welcome change, viewed in the context of the Administration’s total budget coupled with the state it finds itself in after years of inadequate funding, much more must be done to ensure a compassionate and responsive SSA.

As professionals in the field of Social Security Representation, we will continue to advocate for Social Security Disability funding. We will continue to follow the most up to date legislation to keep our clients and our community informed.

If you would like to read more about Congress’s spending bill, please follow the links:

Representative Ehren Ehrbright
Technical Advisor/EDPNA