Sunday, February 15, 2009

SSA faces challenge in Baby Boom retirements

While most press attention, and my own focus, is on how Baby Boomer retirements will affect Social Security's large-scale financing, handing the retirement and disability applications of 10,000 Boomers per days is a huge administrative challenge for the Social Security Administration. This is particularly so given that SSA itself faces a wave of retirements within its own staff. The Washington Post
reports on a new GAO study on the administrative challenges faced by the SSA. While the Baby Boomers began retiring last year, they are already in their peak years for disability insurance applications, which are significantly more difficult to process than retirement applications. From my own experience, while productivity can be improved at any large organization, particularly in government, the staff at SSA have increased output considerably and Commissioner Astrue has been proactive in looking at a variety of ways to streamline applications processes. It's beyond me to judge what the appropriate level of staffing and resources is, particularly given the ability to substitute technology for manpower these days, but it seems clear the agency will be hard pressed in coming years and Congress should pay close attention to SSA's needs.

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