Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Social Security Advisory Board Releases Annual Report

Social Security Advisory Board

Board releases 2016 annual report

The Board is pleased to release the 19th Annual Report of the Social Security Advisory Board. The annual report is also available on the Board’s website (www.ssab.gov). It chronicles the events and activities in which the Board engaged in during 2016.

The Board continued its study of representative payees and published the report A Call to Action outlining the growing need for payees and a thorough review of Social Security Administration (SSA) policy and procedures. In its Supplemental Security Income (SSI) statement (published in SSA’s Annual Report of the SSI Program), the Board continued discussing payee issues and concerns, highlighting growing awareness of a model that supports, rather than replaces, a person’s financial decision making authority.

Following the Board sponsored report of the 2015 Technical Panel on Assumptions and Methods, the Board decided to explore in more detail how the Social Security trustees project labor force participation and the effect of those projections on trust fund finances. In the spring of 2016, the Board commissioned an independent technical panel of five eminent labor economists to focus on explaining trends in labor force participation and the methods used to project participation rates into the future. The panel’s completed report was issued in 2017.

The passage of the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act included a requirement for SSA to field a  demonstration project to study the effects on earnings of a voluntary offset of disability benefits  offered to beneficiaries who attempt work. The Board commissioned a report to differentiate and discuss the new demonstration project with an earlier demonstration project. The independent report was released in the spring of 2016.

In July, the Board held a public forum to discuss some of the complexity inherent in the SSI program. The event, held in Washington, D.C., brought together experts in the field to discuss resource limits and in-kind support and maintenance rules as well as the experiences of young recipients navigating the program. The forum generated some surprising bipartisanship around the need for a less complex program, automatic cost of living increases and stronger incentives for both youth and adult recipients to attempt work and earnings.

Throughout the year, the Board met month-by-month in furtherance of its mission to understand and report on the administrative challenges facing the agency and how those challenges impact program beneficiaries and the public writ large. The Board met with the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, SSA executives, and staff, with policymakers on Capitol Hill, and advocates. The Board traveled to San Francisco for meetings with regional management and employees from the field, hearing office and processing center operations as well as local stakeholders to learn firsthand how policy made in Washington and Baltimore translates on the ground and in the lives of real people.

The Board saw significant changes in its membership in 2016, as Dorcas Hardy and Alan Cohen finished their terms, and Kim Hildred joined the Board in September. The Board is grateful to Alan and Dorcas for their service and innumerable contributions to the work of the Board. 

The Board is proud of its bipartisan work and looks forward to continued efforts to improve Social Security programs for the American people. 

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