FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2011
AARP: Cuts to Social Security Administration Will Hurt Real People
AARP’s Hammond testifies on impact of delayed services, increasing backlog of disability case reviews if FY11 budget reductions go forward
WASHINGTON—AARP President W. Lee Hammond testifies this morning in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies on the human impact of proposed reductions in funding for the Social Security Administration in FY 2011 and FY 2012. AARP is calling for full funding of SSA to ensure that the agency can effectively respond to increasing demand for services that impact millions of Americans every day.
Excerpts from his testimony are below:
“The Social Security Administration interacts with millions of Americans when they retire and seek the benefits they have earned over a lifetime of work; with those who through sickness or injury become disabled, and can no longer support themselves or their families;…and, with countless widows, widowers and surviving dependents who must continue on after the loss of a loved one – real people.
“SSA performs additional work as it meets the challenge of Boomers reaching retirement age--at a rate of one every eight seconds by the end of this decade… With the increases in funding Congress has provided over the last three years -- and significant increases in employee productivity -- SSA has been able to make some progress in customer service. However, the longer-than-foreseen economic downturn has resulted in record-level claims for retirement and disability benefits.
“In FY 2010, SSA received nearly 3,225,000 initial disability claims, the highest in its 75-year history. Eliminating the hearings backlog continues to be SSA’s highest priority, and one that AARP strongly supports. SSA ended fiscal year 2010 with just over 700,000 pending hearings nationwide – the lowest level in five years. At its peak, it took an average of 18 months for a hearing decision. As of January 2011, it took just over a year.
“Yet, at a time when additional funding is needed to handle the increased workload, the agency is dealing with the possibility of a government shutdown, as well as cutbacks resulting from enactment of spending levels below the current fiscal year. The House-passed long-term Continuing Resolution H.R. 1 would result in an aggregate funding loss of $1.093 billion for the Social Security Administration. That proposal is unacceptable.
“Today, the bottom line is that nothing short of $11.679 billion, with no rescission of IT funds for FY 2011 will ensure the ability of the SSA to adapt to the many critical challenges that confront them for the balance of this year.
“AARP recognizes that the federal budget deficit provides many challenges, and AARP members believe it is important to work together across partisan lines to find responsible budget solutions that consider the health and financial well-being of all Americans.
“While SSA funding is of great importance, we have equal concern for many other vital health care services and economic security programs, including severe proposed cuts to home energy assistance, nutrition programs and Medicare premium assistance for low income seniors. The budget reflects the priorities of this nation, and any budgetary cuts will impact people, not just programs.”
For more information about Mr. Hammond’s full testimony, please contact AARP Media Relations at (202) 434-2560.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.