Quote: "...the budget provides new authority and $400 million in new resources for SSA, in partnership with other Federal agencies, to test innovative strategies to help people with disabilities remain in the workforce."
Statement of Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, about the FY 2015 President's Budget Request.
"Recognizing the importance of the services we deliver each day to the American public, the FY 2015 President's Budget requests $12.024 billion for Social Security's administrative expenses. The FY 2015 Budget request will replace some of the cuts due to sequestration and allow us to continue building on the progress we are making in FY 2014. With the requested FY 2015 funding level, we will be able to continue to increase our cost-effective program integrity work and enhance our vigorous fraud prevention efforts, improve our service to the American public, and modernize our service delivery.
Most of the increase in our FY 2015 budget is for program integrity work, including to double the number of continuing disability reviews (CDR) we complete compared to FY 2013. CDRs are periodic reevaluations of medical eligibility factors for disability recipients and save billions of dollars each year. We estimate that our FY 2015 program integrity investments will save $9 in program savings for $1 spent on CDRs, including Medicare and Medicaid savings.
Our FY 2015 budget will also help us to sustain and build upon our efforts in FY 2014 to combat fraud, waste, and abuse, including opening seven more Cooperative Disability Investigation units. These units are highly successful at detecting fraud before we make a disability decision and save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.
In addition, the budget provides new authority and $400 million in new resources for SSA, in partnership with other Federal agencies, to test innovative strategies to help people with disabilities remain in the workforce. Early-intervention measures, such as supportive employment services for individuals with mental impairments, targeted incentives for employers to help workers with disabilities remain on the job, and opportunities for States to better coordinate services, have the potential to achieve long-term gains in the employment and the quality of life of people with disabilities, and the proposed demonstration authority will help build the evidence base for future program improvements.
While it is our goal to balance service, quality, and stewardship, limited resources over the past three years have hindered our ability to do so. Despite making tough and targeted cuts, our service and stewardship efforts deteriorated as a result of losing over 12 percent of our workforce 11,000 employees since 2011. The FY 2014 funding level allows us to replace employees who leave during the year for the first time in over three years, and to replace some - but not all - of our losses from prior years. These new hires will allow us to begin reversing the deterioration in service that has occurred over the last three years. Sustained, adequate, and timely funding is essential for us to fully recover and improve service.
The FY 2015 President's Budget also supports our service modernization efforts. By investing in efforts such as implementing more online services, we can become more efficient and more responsive to the public, saving both time and money. The FY 2015 budget request includes $100 million for information technology investments related to customer service modernization efforts. The Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, which is a separate, fully paid-for series of additional investments in the President's Budget, invests an additional $150 million in SSA's customer service initiatives to further reduce wait times and enhance services for the public.
Our requested budget is a responsible approach that will allow us to improve services while continuing to make tough, but necessary choices. These funds will allow us to continue our investments in multiple service delivery options, give our employees tools to better serve the public, explore and utilize new technology, as well as increase our efforts to combat fraud.
Our administrative costs represent just 1.4 percent of the benefits we pay annually, a remarkable achievement and a testament to our hard-working, innovative employees. We have proven year after year that we are good stewards of our resources. With the requested funding, we can continue to serve the public effectively, plan for the future and wisely invest in technology and process improvements. We must be able to replace critical staffing losses, continue to explore alternative service delivery methods, and emphasize program integrity workloads now. Investment in our programs and operations are resources that are well spent, ensuring our ability to serve the public now and in years to come.
For more than 75 years, Americans have depended on Social Security. We know that millions of Americans continue to count on us to provide them with the service they need and deserve at some of the most critical points in their lives. It is critical that the Congress enacts President Obama's budget proposal in a timely manner."
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