Like so many individuals, businesses, and organizations, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is scrambling to regroup as the pandemic subsides. The SSA has identified several areas that need improvement, including wait times and backlogs, community outreach to vulnerable populations, and technology upgrades.
President Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget could give these hoped-for improvements a helping hand by upping the agency’s funding to $14 billion—a $1.3 billion increase over its 2021 budget, which equates to a 9.7% boost in funding. Advocates for disabled Americans are hopeful that this increase in funding, if approved by Congress, will improve access to badly-needed benefits for the disabled. 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.”
Critics of the SSA say that agency’s customer service has deteriorated in recent years. The backlog of disability cases waiting to be decided is particularly troublesome. Social Security says the additional money could help reduce that 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.
In 2022, an estimated 74 million beneficiaries will be depending on more than $1.2 trillion in old age and disability benefits disbursed by the Social Security Administration.