Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Social Security Can’t Continue to Do More with Less

by Barbara B. Kennelly, NCPSSM President/CEO

I was on the Hill today testifying before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. At issue is legislation that requires the Social Security Administration to administer a national employment verification system. The National Committee has not taken a position on the underlying goals of any of the immigration bills before Congress. However, this employee verification issue demands our response.

I cannot say strongly enough what a serious disservice would be done to America’s seniors and others if Social Security was required to carry the burden of this enormous, costly and unrelated immigration workload. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost to SSA of one of the leading immigration proposals would be more than $1 billion in just the first year of implementation...an amount equal to nearly 10 percent of the agency’s administrative budget. Experts have concluded that the E-Verify process, with its millions of notifications about mismatches of employee information...would result in a deluge of phone calls and visits to Social Security field offices around the country, swamping other crucial SSA activities.

The Social Security Administration is already facing significant challenges, primarily because of years of insufficient funding which isn’t keeping up with the increasing workloads. Chief among these challenges is a disability claims crisis. Disability cases are piling up and needy people are waiting years to receive their benefits. At the same time, SSA is facing the retirement of 80 million Baby Boomers who will also be expecting swift and accurate processing of their retirement claims.

Historically, the Social Security Administration has the government’s best reputation of solid service to its beneficiaries. However, the strains of recent years have taken their toll. I say enough is enough.

Here are some important links on this issue: CBO and GAO Reports on verification legislation, our National Committee Viewpoint on SSA funding, and my full Congressional testimony.

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