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This request recognizes the need for fiscal restraint Governmentwide and SSA's
obligation to make the most effective use of limited resources. As a result, while in
general the present levels of service will be maintained, we do not expect that SSA will
improve materially its service delivery during the budget period. In fact, in
some areas, we may see the number of cases pending increase and processing times
SSA's budget request for fiscal year 1992 is driven to a large extent by the significant
increases in work SSA can expect over the next two years. These increases are
primarily attributable to the following factors:
In recent months SSA has seen an increase in the numbers of SSI and Social
Security disability claims filed. SSA's current estimates of disability claims
receipts for fiscal year 1991 have increased by 8 percent from the estimates in
the 1991 President's budget. For fiscal year 1992 we estimate an additional
increase of more than 4 percent from the 1991 level.
At the end of November 1990, 392,000 initial disability claims were pending in
the State Disability Determination Services, an increase of more than
30 percent compared to one year earlier. We also have seen increasing
disability claims processing times. These trends are expected to continue
during this budget period.
SSA's nationwide "800" number continues to elicit heavy call volumes, resulting
in high busy rates. Measures to improve service, such as automated scripts,
revised call routing, and intelligent queuing are being tested and implemented.
Nevertheless, given increasing call volumes, the budget does not anticipate
significant improvement in busy rates.
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 includes several provisions
which could have a significant impact on SSA's administrative resources.
These provisions cover such areas as:
improving representative payee selection and monitoring;
revising the definition of disability for widows and widowers; and
improving Social Security notices to the public.
Some additional resources have been budgeted in fiscal year 1992 to address
these provisions. SSA will, however, concentrate its resources on processing
the additional claims and other workloads generated by this legislation.
In recognition of the rapid changes within the Agency in recent years and the need to
focus limited resources on achieving our service goals, we have begun to revise SSA'S
Agency Strategic Plan to define service requirements and needed investments in new
technology. A renewed Agency Strategic Plan will provide, in general, a picture of how
SSA will deliver high quality service to the American public in the next century. This is
not a short-term effort. However, once-completed, it will help us develop more efficient
and effective ways to manage increasing workloads within available administrative
Tools and Technology To Serve the Public
In order for SSA employees to do their jobs in the most effective and efficient manner
and continue delivering high-quality public service now and in the future, we must invest in our human resources by providing adequate training and furnishing our
employees with essential automated tools and materiel support. One critical
component of employee support is that provided by SSA's automated data processing and telecommunications systems, on which SSA's service delivery is heavily and
The cost of Just maintaining current operations in these systems continues to increase.
We also must continue to invest in technology as a tool to improve the quality of
service our employees can provide to the public, to pay benefits promptly and
handle claims swiftly, and
administer each of our programs as
efficiently as possible.
While downsizing by about 17,000 FTES, SSA has been able to maintain service levels
in recent years largely due to the efficiencies achieved through automation and
systems modernization. SSA's investments in technology have accomplished a great
deal. Nevertheless, continued investments are needed to lay the foundation for future
efficiencies needed to offset workload growth and provide the flexibility needed to
improve public service. Along with investments in technology, we must ensure that our
employees are properly trained as new systems and procedures are implemented, and
that they have safe work environments with appropriate equipment and supplies to do
SSA's fiscal year 1992 systems investments will focus on:
Further automation and modernization of the Agency's programmatic software, so that SSA employees can keep up with growing workloads and process
applications in a more timely and accurate manner;
"800" number improvements to permit SSA to handle more calls with available
teleservice representatives, thus reducing busy rates and providing better
public access to SSA;
Ensuring adequate computer capacity to meet growing beneficiary workloads and increasing online transaction volumes;
Additional personal computer workstations to increase efficiency of
immediate mailing to beneficiaries; and
Replacement or upgrade of equipment that has become outmoded, unreliable
or costly to maintain.
This budget also supports investments in automated data processing equipment and
services for the State Disability Determination Services. In recent years these State
agencies have improved productivity and quality with limited support in terms of
automation. The States are now faced with significant increases in projected disability
workloads; coupled with increased emphasis on quality and training on and implementation of new childhood disability regulations, which will result in slightly
reduced productivity. We now, more than ever before, need to make sure that State
Disability Determination Services employees have the automated tools they need to do
their jobs efficiently.
SSA's 1992 budget request also restores limited funding for other critical areas of SSA
employee support. For example, we plan to replenish near-depleted inventories of
supplies, forms and public information materials; and we will make minimal investments
needed to ensure employee health and safety in SSA's facilities. In addition, funds will
be restored for employee training and for basic building repairs and maintenance, to
finance the most critical repairs deferred from prior years and prevent further
deterioration of our facilities.
I am committed to the employees of the Social Security Administration whom I have
asked to enter into a partnership with me to ensure the continued efficient operation of
this program, one that has paid benefits each month, on time for the past 50 years.
We will continue to work together in this partnership to deliver quality public service
and to safeguard the Social Security programs for our current and future beneficiaries.
Fiscal Year 1991 Supplemental Request
SSA also has before the Committee a fiscal year 1991 supplemental budget request
related to the significant increase in work this Agency faces as a result of the Supreme
Court decision in the case of Sullivan v. Zebley. This decision calls for SSA to
reevaluate childhood disability claims for SSI benefits which have been denied because
the child's functional limitations were not considered in evaluating the severity of the
impairment. Although details for implementing the decision are still being worked out
with the court, SSA's budget estimates assume that nationwide class relief will extend
to claims denied since January 1980, resulting in 200,000 to 300,000 new disability
determinations for Zebley class members.
To fund SSA and State Disability Determination Services costs for this large, one-time
workload -- including making new disability determinations for Zebley class members
who request one, evaluating income and resources for those class members
determined to be disabled, and processing appeals of denials - the President has
requested a supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 1991, with funds to remain
available through the end of fiscal year 1993.
Regulations used to evaluate childhood disability entitlement have been revised based
on the Zebley decision to make them comparable to the regulations used to evaluate
adult categories. As a result, we also anticipate an increase in ongoing SSI disability
workloads, beginning in fiscal year 1991, due to the revisions made to the childhood
Social Security Trust Funds
I would like to say a few words about the Social Security trust funds. Funds to pay
benefits from the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI)
Trust Funds are permanently appropriated, and therefore are not part of the budget
requests before this Committee. In fiscal year 1992 we expect to make payments of