SSA Service Delivery Challenges
The Social Security Administration (SSA) faces challenges managing retirement and disability benefit workloads while providing quality and timely customer service.
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 expected 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 29 percent, from 67.2 million in 2014 to 86.7 million in 2025. Additionally, SSA projects that nearly 22,000 of its employees will retire by 2022, which represents approximately one-third of its workforce. 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. However, SSA has taken steps to mitigate many of these challenges, such as increasing the proportion of its services that are delivered electronically. SSA has also undertaken several planning efforts aimed at addressing some of its long-term challenges, but many of these efforts are still underway. Specifically, in August 2014, SSA laid out its workforce management and succession plans to address the potential loss of institutional knowledge and expertise from staff retirements. Furthermore, in April 2015, SSA published a document describing its vision for the agency’s future, including its intention to align its physical infrastructure to efficiently meet customer and business needs. However, SSA has not yet completed efforts to create a strategic roadmap detailing the actions and resources needed to achieve its long-term vision for the agency and its physical infrastructure.
Figure 1: Long-Term Projected Growth in SSA's Workload Coincides with Large Numbers of Potential Employee Retirements
GAO-13-459: Published: May 29, 2013. Publicly Released: May 29, 2013.
GAO-10-586T: Published: Apr 15, 2010. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 2010.
GAO-09-24: Published: Jan 9, 2009. Publicly Released: Feb 9, 2009.
GAO-08-737T: Published: May 8, 2008. Publicly Released: May 8, 2008.
GAO-16-815T: Published: Jul 14, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 2016.
GAO-16-250: Published: Feb 11, 2016. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 2016.
GAO-16-75SP: Published: Oct 27, 2015. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 2015.
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GAO-14-492T: Published: Apr 9, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 9, 2014.
GAO-14-46: Published: Nov 27, 2013. Publicly Released: Dec 27, 2013.
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GAO-13-635: Published: Aug 15, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 2013.