Social Security:

Staff Reductions and Service Quality

HRD-88-97: Published: May 13, 1988. Publicly Released: May 13, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) quality of service to the public in processing benefits claims and the consistency and reliability of its processing during staff reductions.

GAO found that SSA: (1) improved its processing timeliness, payment accuracy rates, and pending work-load sizes between December 1986 and December 1987; (2) decreased service levels for processing hearing requests and claims processing accuracy for the Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI) Program; (3) planned to hire additional administrative law judges to improve hearing processing; and (4) attributed the drop in RSDI accuracy to field office processing of claims formerly processed at SSA service centers, but expected the rate to improve as the field offices gained experience. GAO also found that: (1) in a client satisfaction survey, 87 percent of the respondents indicated that they found overall SSA service to be good to very good; and (2) an SSA manager survey indicated that managers were positive about the service they provided, negative about staff reductions, and believed that employee morale was low. In addition, GAO found that SSA was testing a quality assurance program that would provide a payment accuracy rate to reflect currently adjudicated payment accuracy.

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