American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) SSA Council 220 is urging lawmakers to provide $20 billion in supplemental funding to assure the Social Security Administration (SSA) is fully staffed and can continue providing Social Security benefits going forward.
The union, which represents more than 26,000 SSA employees at field offices and teleservice centers nationwide, recently held an online forum to discuss urgent matters pertaining to the SSA. At the online event, AFGE SSA Council 220 President Jessica LaPointe described SSA as an agency in crisis, with a budget that has not been able to meet the growing needs of rising beneficiaries, according to an AFGE statement.
“While baby boomers are turning age 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, SSA’s staffing is at the lowest level in 25 years and SSA’s operating budgets have decreased by 17%, adjusted for inflation,” according to AFGE, noting that cuts from short-term funding measures are forcing SSA to suspend new hires and limit overtime. These reductions have created sizable claims backlogs, longer wait times for beneficiaries and high turnover “as overworked employees leave for less stressful jobs.”
Blame for customer service delays should not be placed at SSA employees’ feet, LaPointe said, adding that such holdups are instead the result of elected officials failing to adequately fund the agency and provide employees the tools and resources they need.
In the online forum, representatives from Social Security Works and Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans (WIARA) joined AFGE SSA Council 220 to implore Congress to do three things, according to AFGE:
- Fully fund SSA during its annual appropriation process
- Provide $20 billion in emergency supplemental funding over 10 years
- Fix SSA’s solvency issues
“Without the funding,” LaPointe said, “we’re going to be in this same position year after year of just barely meeting the public’s needs, if at all.”
AFGE noted that Social Security’s current funds will be able to pay 100% benefits until the year 2034, and roughly 80% of scheduled benefits from that point on, adding that the program is funded by a 6.2% payroll tax paid by workers, and another 6.2% paid by employers. This year’s income tax cap of $168,000 ($160,200 last year), however, means that any income above that threshold is not subject to Social Security tax. As AFGE pointed out, there have been attempts to either increase or eliminate that cap as a way to address solvency concerns and “make the wealthy pay their fair share,” according to the union’s statement.
The Social Security 2100 Act, for example, was introduced in July 2023, and includes provisions designed to increase Social Security revenues by imposing the Social Security payroll tax on earnings over $400,000. If enacted, the legislation would enable Social Security to pay scheduled benefits “in full and on time for an additional 32 years.”
Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, traced SSA’s solvency issues to billionaires who “don’t want to pay their fair share,” according to a statement. Lawson called on Congress to rectify that disparity.
“There’s no social security crisis,” he said. “There’s a billionaire crisis. There’s billionaires that don’t want to pay in a the same rate as the rest of the country’s workers.”
02 February 2024
HR News Article