Retirement Security

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Open Recommendations

Social Security Administration: Remote Service Delivery Increased during COVID-19, but More Could Be Done to Assist Vulnerable Populations

GAO-23-104650
Nov 17, 2022
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5 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of SSA should develop a plan—with clear steps, goals, metrics, and timelines—to evaluate the feasibility of obtaining additional race and ethnicity data from other state and federal entities in support of its Equity Action Plan goals. (Recommendation 1)
Open
SSA agreed with this recommendation. We await the agency's plans to address it and will monitor their progress.
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of SSA should develop a plan—with clear steps, goals, metrics, and timelines—for enabling claimants to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits online. (Recommendation 2)
Open
SSA agreed with this recommendation. We await the agency's plans to address it and will monitor their progress.
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of SSA should evaluate the feasibility of making online Spanish applications available again for those SSA benefit programs with existing online applications. (Recommendation 3)
Open
SSA agreed with this recommendation. We await the agency's plans to address it and will monitor their progress.
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of SSA should implement a coordinated process for assessing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that includes documentation and dissemination, implementation of corrective action, and incorporation into future contingency planning. (Recommendation 4)
Open
SSA agreed with this recommendation. We await the agency's plans to address it and will monitor their progress.
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of SSA should develop an agency-wide plan for managing anticipated increases in SSA's disability workloads. (Recommendation 5)
Open
SSA agreed with this recommendation. We await the agency's plans to address it and will monitor their progress.

Social Security Disability: SSA Expedited Most Critical Cases at Hearings Level but Lacks Consistent Policy Implementation

GAO-22-104191
Jul 18, 2022
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2 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should ensure that appropriate oversight staff review the consistency of the Office of Hearings Operation's use of documentation requirements for dire need situations and consider changes that balance the potential for abuse under the current policy—such as some applicants falsely claiming dire need in order to receive priority processing—against the potential that excessive documentation requirements may prevent otherwise eligible claimants from having dire need cases expedited. (Recommendation 1)
Open
SSA agreed with this recommendation but did not indicate plans to address it.
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should examine the agency's handling of cases at the hearings level that indicate homelessness, eviction, or another critical need, and revise the agency's procedures to ensure that hearing offices are expediting these cases in accordance with SSA policy. (Recommendation 2)
Open
SSA agreed with this recommendation but did not indicate plans to address it.

401(k) Retirement Plans: Many Participants Do Not Understand Fee Information, but DOL Could Take Additional Steps to Help Them

GAO-21-357
Aug 26, 2021
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5 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Employee Benefits Security Administration The Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration should require, in a manner deemed effective, that fee disclosures for participant-directed individual retirement accounts use a consistent term for asset-based investment fees (e.g. gross expense ratio). (Recommendation 1)
Open
DOL officials stated that would carefully consider this recommendation with a focus on the potential practical impact of mandating such disclosures.
Employee Benefits Security Administration The Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration should require, in a manner deemed effective, that quarterly fee disclosures for participant-directed individual retirement accounts provide participants the actual cost of asset-based investment fees paid. (Recommendation 2)
Open
DOL officials stated that would carefully consider this recommendation with a focus on the potential practical impact of mandating such disclosures.
Employee Benefits Security Administration The Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration should take steps to provide participants important information concerning the cumulative effect of fees on savings over time. For example, steps could include ensuring disclosures cite a working, specific DOL web address for where such information is shown and requiring that fee disclosures include the agency's graphic illustration on the cumulative effect of fees. (Recommendation 3)
Open
DOL officials stated that would carefully consider this recommendation with a focus on the potential practical impact of mandating such disclosures.
Employee Benefits Security Administration The Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration should require, in a manner deemed effective, that participant fee disclosures for participant-directed individual retirement accounts include fee benchmarks for in-plan investment options. (Recommendation 4)
Open
DOL officials stated that would carefully consider this recommendation with a focus on the potential practical impact of mandating such disclosures.
Employee Benefits Security Administration The Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration should require, in a manner deemed effective, that participant fee disclosures for participant-directed individual retirement accounts include ticker information for in-plan investment options, when available. (Recommendation 5)
Open
DOL officials stated that would carefully consider this recommendation with a focus on the potential practical impact of mandating such disclosures.

Retirement Savings: Federal Workers' Portfolios Should Be Evaluated For Possible Financial Risks Related to Climate Change

GAO-21-327
Jun 24, 2021
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board The Executive Director of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, to better inform the Board's ongoing oversight activities, should evaluate TSP's investment offerings in light of risks related to climate change.
Open
FRTIB did not indicate whether it agreed or disagreed with this recommendation. FRTIB noted that it subscribes to a strict indexing discipline and that the efficient market theory concludes that the market is pricing all risks into its valuation on an on-going basis. FRTIB stated that its next investment consultant review is planned for fiscal year 2022 and that it would review any recommended changes to its fund offerings at that time. FRTIB further stated that it would examine any recommendations made by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission and the Federal Stability Oversight Commission on climate change-related risks and determine whether and how to apply those lessons to the TSP. GAO recognizes FRTIB's established process for evaluating TSP's investment options. Its 2022 review is an opportunity for FRTIB to conduct a focused evaluation of these risks and clarify what additional steps, if any, are needed. Given the systemic and unprecedented risk that climate change is expected to have on global financial markets, GAO continues to believe that it is important for FRTIB to evaluate TSP's investment offerings for these risks. While FTRIB stated that its upcoming mutual fund window would provide TSP participants with an opportunity to invest beyond the five core funds, the mutual fund window does not address the potential climate change-related risks to TSP's core investment funds. Examining climate change-related risks facing TSP's $700 billion in assets under management would provide FRTIB with a greater understanding of its potential exposure to these risks and enable it to decide if any further actions are necessary to protect the retirement savings of over 6 million federal workers
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