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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 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 18 percent—from 70.0 million in 2017 to 82.7 million in 2025. SSA also projects that about one-third of its employees will retire between 2014 and 2022. 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: Projected Growth in SSA's Workload Coincides with Large Numbers of Potential Employee Retirements

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 Elizabeth H. Curda
    • Elizabeth H. Curda
    • Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security
    • (202) 512-7215