Adequate Funding Needed for SSA’s Programs

All three of Social Security’s programs- retirement, SSI, and SSDI– have seen increased numbers in caseloads, but administrative funding for the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been suspended since 2010.  Furthermore, the Budget Control Act of 2011 put a cap on discretionary spending that will reduce non-defense programs by 16% by 2021.  Between now and then, it is estimated that Social Security’s caseloads will grow by 30%, which makes it evident that SSA needs adequate funding to carry out its job functions, one of which is continuing disability reviews (CDRs).

CDRs assess if a disability beneficiary is still eligible for benefits and aims to reduce the number of people on the rolls.  The continued and properly scheduled use of CDRs is expected to eventually reduce payments by $10 for every $1 spent in increased funding.  This measure not only ensures the integrity of the disability program, but also helps the budget.

If fraud is suspected in a disability claim, it goes through a Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI), which is lead by SSA’s Office of Inspector General and involves SSA, employees from the state Disability Determination Services (DDS), and local law enforcement.  The CDI requires quite a bit of resources and thus, to be effective, also calls for higher funding.  The Budget Control Act included a “cap adjustment” for program-integrity activities such as CDRs and CDIs, but in the 2012 appropriation of funds, Congress did not take advantage of the cap increases, leaving $140 million in SSA funding up for negotiation.  However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “President Obama has asked Congress to enact the full amount allowed for program-integrity activities in 2013.”