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SSA Service Delivery Challenges

The Social Security Administration (SSA) faces challenges managing retirement and disability benefit workloads while providing quality and timely customer service.

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SSA's workload has grown with the aging of the baby boomer population. At the same time, many of SSA's most experienced staff are poised to retire (see fig.1). As a result, SSA faces significant service delivery challenges. Specifically, SSA estimates that retirement and disability beneficiaries will increase by 23 percent, from 62.2 million in 2012 to 76.5 million in 2020. Additionally, SSA projects that nearly 31,000 of its employees will be eligible to retire by 2020, including 43 percent of its non-supervisory employees and 60 percent of its supervisors. Despite SSA’s efforts to manage its rising workload, customer service in SSA’s field offices and on its telephone hotline has been adversely affected and SSA has deferred key program integrity activities, such as reviews of beneficiaries’ continuing eligibility for benefits. Although SSA is finalizing a service delivery plan, it only includes detailed plans for the next 5 years and focuses on existing initiatives rather than articulating specific long-term strategies for the agency’s service delivery model. Additionally, SSA lacks an up-to-date succession plan to help manage the potential loss of institutional knowledge and expertise and ensure leadership continuity. Moreover, while SSA has increased the proportion of its services that it delivers electronically, it has not yet analyzed whether its existing headquarters, region, and field structure most effectively and efficiently supports the agency’s mission.

Figure 1: Long-Term Projected Growth in SSA’s Workload Coincides with Large Numbers of Potential Employee Retirements

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SSA Management ChallengesWednesday, May 29, 2013
  • portrait of Daniel Bertoni
    • Daniel Bertoni
    • Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security
    • bertonid@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-7215