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AARP to White House: Social Security Administration Deserves Permanent Leadership

Because of the critical role the Social Security Administration plays in the lives of millions of Americans, it absolutely essential that the agency have a permanent Commissioner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 14, 2013

CONTACT:

AARP Media Relations

202-434-2560 | media@aarp.org | @AARPMedia

AARP to White House: Social Security Administration Deserves Permanent Leadership          

WASHINGTON, D.C. – AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond sent a letter to President Obama today, highlighting the importance of making a nomination for the next Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. The letter follows.

“Dear Mr. President:

“As we mark the 78th Anniversary of the creation of Social Security, AARP would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to make the nomination of the next commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) a high priority. As you know, former Commissioner Michael J. Astrue departed SSA in February 2013 and the agency has now been under interim direction for six months. Millions of current and future generations of Americans depend on Social Security for their financial security, and the agency that administers this critical program deserves permanent leadership.

“On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. It is difficult to overestimate the magnitude of Social Security’s impact on the lives of the American people in the 78 years since that date. In addition to 57 million current beneficiaries, since its inception Social Security has allowed millions upon millions of working Americans to live their retirement years independently, without fear of exhausting their assets, and has kept millions of older Americans out of poverty. Social Security has also provided a lifeline to millions of Americans who, through sickness or injury, became disabled and could no longer work to support themselves or their families. And the Social Security program has allowed countless widows, widowers and surviving dependents to make ends meet and survive financially after the loss of a family wage earner.

“Social Security’s success in serving so many Americans for so many decades has depended in great part to its superior administration. To continue to maintain the level of world-class service Americans have come to expect from the Social Security Administration will require permanent leadership with the vision and expertise to meet the challenges of managing this critical program in the twenty-first century. Those challenges include the continued need to update technology to ensure dependable delivery of benefits and facilitate more efficient interactions with a growing population. At the same time, the Social Security Administration must continue to offer in-person customer service to the millions of Americans who need or prefer to meet with someone on issues pertaining to their earned benefits. In addition to these challenges, the disability hearings backlog continues to be a major concern for the Social Security Administration, with a recent return to increases in both the number of pending hearings and processing times. Individuals can currently expect to wait almost an entire year before they receive a disability hearing. This is an unacceptably long period during which an applicant may have no income. Resolving the backlog remains a critical issue that the next Commissioner address. Finally, over the years, the Social Security Administration has assumed many vital roles essential to the success of other important government programs. The Social Security Administration is responsible for making Medicare eligibility determinations and administering the E-verify program, among many other services it performs not directly related to the administration of Social Security benefits.

“Because of the critical role the Social Security Administration plays in the lives of millions of Americans, it absolutely essential that the agency have a permanent Commissioner at the helm who is both a strong advocate for Social Security and an outstanding manager. We call on you to make the nomination of the next commissioner of SSA a high priority for your Administration.”

 

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The 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. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.

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