President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal on Tuesday, February 9. It includes a requested total budget authority of $13.237 billion for the Social Security Administration. This includes $13.067 billion for Limitation on Administrative Expense (LAE), which pays for SSA staff salaries, offices, equipment, and other items and services needed to carry out SSA’s mission. It also includes $112 million for SSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and $58 million for research.
If Congress granted the President’s budget request, SSA would see a 7.02% increase in funding for Fiscal Year 2017, which begins October 1, 2016. However, Congress is unlikely to grant the President’s budget request. In recent years, Congress has provided far less to SSA than the President has requested.
The President’s budget proposal also includes recommendations for bills Congress should pass. In previous years, the President included a “UI/DI offset” proposal, where SSDI beneficiaries would see a reduction in their benefits if they attempted to work, lost their jobs, and received unemployment compensation. NOSSCR and other groups opposed such an offset and we are pleased to see it is not included in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal.
Finally, SSA publishes a “waterfall chart” with its budget documents each year. This year’s chart is available at table 3.34 of https://www.ssa.gov/budget/FY17Files/2017LAE.pdf (page 77 of the pdf; labeled with page number 169). The chart indicates that SSA made fewer than 508,000 decisions (including dismissals) at the ALJ level in Fiscal Year 2015, while receiving more than 746,000 hearing requests. This discrepancy means that even with the level of funding the President requested and the additional staff it could support, SSA estimates that wait times for hearings will increase to 555 days in Fiscal Year 2017. NOSSCR continues to advocate about the devastating effect such wait times have on disability benefit claimants. We will soon release a sample letter NOSSCR members can send to their members of Congress in support of sufficient funding to reduce the hearings backlog.
More information about the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 request for SSA is available at www.ssa.gov/budget. Members with questions are encouraged to contact NOSSCR’s government affairs staff at (202) 457-7775, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.