The Polls story is here: http://www.ncpssm.org/PressRoom/NewsReleases/Release/ArticleID/1642/New-Poll-Shows-Majorities-Do-Not-Support-GOP-Proposals-for-Social-Security-and-Medicare#.WKNzwpuMfIc.email
The results of the poll confirms what SSA employees already know - the public wants to talk to a live SSA employee either on the phone or face to face at a community based field office when they do their Social Security business. Also, the public tells employees that they want to keep receiving Personal Earnings and Benefit Statements in the mail. Offices have long lines and many customers are having trouble getting through on the 800 number. 43 million people were interviewed in field offices last FY and 37 million called the 800 number and were interviewed by SSA telephone agents.
Why is it hard to get through and why are lines long?
Staffing in field offices has been cut by 2900 (10%) since 2010 while work increased 12%. SSA expects claims to go up 32% through 2025 due to the baby boomer generation.
President Trump pledged not to cut Social Security and Medicare. Unfortunately he has already violated that pledge with his hiring freeze Executive Order. A hiring freeze of 1 year would result in a cut of 3687 employees. A 1 for 3 replacement policy would in 2 years result in about 4600 less employees.
The Continuing Resolution resulted in an SSA hiring freeze in field offices and TSCs. The result: 800 waiting time has increased 38% in the 1st quarter of FY17. Busy rates for 800# callers increased 48% in the first quarter of FY17. Disability claimants who appeal their claims to hearing wait an average of 774 days from initial application to hearings decision. That's over 2 years. That's horrible service and is a direct result of insufficient staffing.
Employees know that it's hard to get through to the 800 #, many offices have lines out the door, many offices have full appointment calendars and people are often sent home because there is no one in the office to interview them.
When its hard to reach an SSA employee the public opts to file claims on the internet. Employees review these internet claims and report that most file the wrong application or choose a month to start their benefits that appears disadvantageous and will result in the loss of tens of thousands of benefits in their lifetime.
Any cuts in SSA's administrative budget by Congress and the President will result in furloughs of employees. SSA has decided to close the agency down completely if there are furloughs. Then the public will not be able to get their SSA business accomplished. There would also likely be a reduction in hours that offices are open to the public.
The cost of administrative expenses is less than 1 %. 0.7% is the overhead cost. No insurance company can match such efficiency.
President Trump is a hotel man. If he ran his hotels like SSA he would have another bankruptcy. None of his customers would tolerate a 3 to 4 hour wait for room service. However, SSA customers wait hours, days, weeks, months and years for SSA to process their business. That's not acceptable!.
In conclusion, we ask that the public contact their Congressperson, Senators and President Trump and demand 4 actions:
1. Lift the hiring freeze
2. Scrap any 1 for 3 or 1 for 2 replacement policy.
3. Continue universal mailing of the PEBES to all wage earners as the 1989 law crafted by Senator Moynihan requires.
4. Fully fund SSA administrative expenses per former President Obama's FY 17appropriations request that called for an 8% increase in the SSA administrative budget. That's needed so SSA employees can provide the services that the public wants and deserves.