Story by Tom Boggioni
According to a letter sent to lawmakers by acting Social Security commissionerKilolo Kijakazi, the program is “faltering” despite an injection of much-needed funding.
The Washington Post is reporting that Kijakazi alerted members of Congress that the difficulties will be impacting disability benefits claims as well as phone assistance later this year.
According to the report, “Although the extra funding Congress added in December to the agency’s $13.3 billion budget aimed to ease those problems by increasing staffing to improve phone operations and reduce record backlogs in the disability system, Kijakazi said it will take significant time to see improvements.”
Kijakazi wrote that the additional funds, “will allow us to maintain essential services, improve staffing, and continue working through backlogs,” but then added, “some performance measures will show improvement in [fiscal] 2023, while others may show temporary degradation.”
The acting commissioner blamed some of the difficulties on residual effects from the Covid pandemic, including staffing shortages.
According to disability attorney Charles Hall, the letter is a red flag for lawmakers.
“The message seems to be, ‘We’re doing great, but everything is getting worse,’” Hall explained. “The phone service is to the point where I’m telling clients to just go down to the field office in person. You may have to wait two to three hours but at least you’ll be talking to someone.”
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