The Democrats on the House Ways and Means committee blasted the Social Security shutdown included in the Republicans 2011 budget plan.
The 2011 budget plan presented this week by the House Republican Majority strips $1.7 billion away from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the remainder of the year, a cut so drastic that SSA would need to impose the equivalent of a month of furloughs. The entire agency would have to shut down all operations for 20 working days. The phones would not be answered, field offices would be closed, and claims processing would halt. Over half a million new retirees, disabled workers and survivors would be forced into a backlog before they could receive the benefits they earned....
House Republicans have proposed a $1.7 billion reduction in SSA funding for the remainder of 2011. That includes:
- Cutting SSA’s operating budget by over a billion dollars (8.5%) below what’s needed for 2011. That level is $506 million below what SSA actually spent in 2010 to process claims and operate Social Security offices.
- Cutting an additional $500 million by draining SSA’s reserve account. Most of the money in reserve is already allocated for this year’s expenses and the rest is budgeted for next year’s planned information technology improvements.
- Rescinding an additional $118 million from funds already set aside to build a new National Computer Center, which could delay equipping this mission-critical project.
SSA is already operating under a partial hiring freeze because of the current continuing resolution, which is likely to result in nearly 3,500 lost jobs for 2011. These additional cuts could lead to SSA offices closing their doors, stopping all claims processing, and not answering the phones for about a month – one month out of the seven remaining in 2011. If Social Security shuts down for a month:
- 400,000 people would not have their retirement, survivors, and Medicare applications processed this year, resulting in a large backlog of unprocessed retirement and survivor claims for the first time in SSA history.
- 290,000 people would not have their initial disability benefit applications processed, which means disabled workers, who already wait months for their applications to be processed, will wait an average of 30 days longer.
- 70,000 fewer people will get a disability appeals hearing this year, which means workers waiting to present an appeal to a judge, who already wait over a year, will wait longer.
- 32,000 fewer continuing disability reviews, which means wasting millions of dollars on improper payments now.
Social Security is definitely on the GOP's chopping block, but it turns out it's not just benefits for retirees and disabled people we're talking about. It's shutting down the entire program they're after.