Rick Warsinskey, President of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations, has recently reported that the fiscal year comparisons of Social Security’s ability to meet taxpayer need for services has steadily deteriorated under the budget cutting knife Congress continues to wield.

 

Field Office Appointment Availability

Beginning of FY 2012: 74 percent of customers could get an appointment within two weeks. Less than 1 percent waited over a month for an appointment.

End of FY 2014: 28 percent of customers could get an appointment within two weeks. 47 percent had to wait over a month for an appointment.

 

Field Office Waiting Times

FY 2012: Customers waited an average of 18.8 minutes; and 4.8 percent, or 2.15 million customers, waited over an hour to be served.

FY 2014: Customers waited an average of 28.2 minutes (50 percent increase) and 13.3 percent, or 5.42 million customers, waited over an hour to be served.

 

Field Office Telephone Service

FY 2012: Busy Rate: 7.4 percent; Answer Rate: 82.9 percent

FY 2014: Busy Rate: 20.1 percent; Answer Rate: 67.3 percent

 

800 Number Telephone Service

FY 2012: Busy Rate: 4.6 percent; Time on Hold: 4 minutes, 14 seconds; Answer Rate: unavailable

FY 2014: Busy Rate: 13.5 percent; Time on Hold: 22 minutes, 3 seconds; Answer Rate: 53.8 percent

 

Mr. Warsinskeycorrectly observes that these performance indicators show that SSA’s baseline services declined significantly because of the hiring freeze following FY 2010. The hiring the agency did in FY 2014, and will do this fiscal year, should help to improve the customer service indicators. The message NCSSMA is delivering to Capitol Hill is that the agency cannot afford to take another step backward. No matter how harsh the budget realities are, the public does not deserve to experience the service degradation they have endured over the past few years.