President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget could give the Social Security Administration a $1.3 billion — or 9.7% — boost in funding. In total, the president is calling for $14.2 billion for the agency for fiscal year 2022.
The proposed increase comes as the Social Security Administration expects to pay more than $1.2 trillion in both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits to more than 74 million beneficiaries in 2022.
If approved, the extra money could help the administration improve one key area — customer service — as it regroups from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money would allow the Social Security Administration to pursue a host of improvement efforts, Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul said in the agency’s budget overview.
Among the areas the administration would address include wait times and backlogs, community outreach to vulnerable populations, and technology upgrades, he said.
“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,” Saul said.
One advocacy group — the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare — says that more money would be crucial to help improve the administration’s ability to serve current beneficiaries and benefit applicants.
“Our concern for a long while has been that customer service just hasn’t really kept up the way that it should,” said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
The group’s concerns about Social Security customer service date back to before the pandemic, according to Adcock.
Among the problems people face include long waits on the Social Security Administration’s 800 number, a backlog of disability insurance cases under review and the closure of many field offices.
While the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues, the funding Biden is proposing could help alleviate those concerns.
The money could help reduce the hearings backlog, bringing the annual average processing time for a decision down to 270 days in fiscal year 2022 from 386 days in fiscal year 2020, according to the Social Security Administration’s estimates.
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®