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Priority Open Recommendations: Social Security Administration

GAO-23-106466 Published: May 09, 2023. Publicly Released: May 16, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help the federal government save money, address issues on our High Risk List, and significantly improve government operations.

This letter to the Social Security Administration outlines 4 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, one of these recommendations would help SSA safeguard recipients' personal data by ensuring privacy officials are reviewing and approving protections for that data.

SSA implemented 4 recommendations we identified as a priority last year.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

Graphic that says, "GAO's Priority Open Recommendations" and includes the Social Security Administration seal.

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What GAO Found

In June 2022, GAO identified 6 priority recommendations for the Social Security Administration (SSA). Since then, SSA has implemented 4 of those recommendations by: (1) establishing a process to measure efforts to reduce improper payments, (2) better targeting representative payees for review to ensure they are managing beneficiary funds appropriately, and (3) updating cybersecurity requirements and assessment procedures to protect sensitive information.

In May 2023, GAO identified 2 additional priority recommendations for SSA, bringing the total number to 4. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • ensuring program integrity,
  • serving vulnerable populations; and
  • protecting sensitive information.

SSA's attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Cindy Brown Barnes (202) 512-7215 or

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High-risk issuesOverpaymentsPersonally identifiable informationPrivacyProgram integritySupplemental security incomeDisability insuranceBeneficiariesCybersecurityFederal agencies