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Monday, August 15, 2011

Social Security Administration (SSA): Budget Issues

Scott Szymendera
Analyst in Disability Policy

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Special Benefits for Certain World War II Veterans programs that affect the lives of nearly every American family. These programs pay out over $800 billion in annual federal benefits. Program benefit costs are considered mandatory spending not subject to annual appropriations.

The SSA requires annual discretionary appropriations to administer these programs and to provide support to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The President’s FY2012 budget request for SSA administrative expenses, referred to as the limitation on administrative expenses (LAE) account, is $12.6 billion.

This report provides an overview of the SSA’s mandatory spending but largely focuses on discretionary appropriations for the agency’s administrative expenses. The size of the annual appropriations for administrative expenses affects the agency’s ability to effectively administer the SSA’s benefit programs as well as conduct program integrity activities designed to ensure that only eligible persons receive federal benefits.

The agency has made progress in recent years in reducing the backlog of pending disability cases and reversing the trend in declining program integrity activities. However, the SSA rarely receives administrative funding equal to the President’s request or its own independent budget request, and this trend continues given the status of funding, via a series of continuing resolutions for FY2011. These extended continuing resolutions and LAE appropriations that are below the President’s budget request may make it difficult for the SSA to build on this progress.

For FY2011, the total SSA LAE appropriation is $11.4 billion, taking into account the 0.2% across-the-board rescission. In addition, $275 million was also rescinded from the SSA’s no-year ITS account.

The Budget Control Act of 2011, P.L. 112-25, which caps discretionary spending and increases the federal government’s statutory debt limit includes a provision to adjust the discretionary spending caps to permit additional appropriations to the SSA for program integrity activities.

Date of Report: August 3, 2011
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R41716
Price: $29.95

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