President Joe Biden is calling for a 9.7% increase in funding to the Social Security Administration.
The $14.2 billion proposed for 2022 would help the administration in one key area, customer service, as the agency regroups from the pandemic.
The money could help the agency reduce the average wait time for its 800 number to 12 minutes from 16, among other changes.
President Joe Biden's 2022 budget could give the Social Security Administration a $1.3 billion — or 9.7% — boost in funding.
In total, the president is calling for $14.2 billion for the agency for fiscal year 2022.
"The President's budget will allow us to begin recovering from the coronavirus pandemic disruptions, building on the lessons we learned to become a stronger and more responsive agency," Saul said.
The group's concerns about Social Security customer service date back to before the pandemic, according to Adcock.
Among the problems people face include long waits on the Social Security Administration's 800 number, a backlog of disability insurance cases under review and the closure of many field offices.
While the Covid pandemic exacerbated these issues, the funding Biden is proposing could help alleviate those concerns.
The money could help reduce the hearings backlog, bringing the annual average processing time for a decision down to 270 days in fiscal year 2022 from 386 days in fiscal year 2020 , according to the Social Security Administration's estimates.
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It could also help increase the number of initial disability claims completed by 720,000 – to 2,757,000 in fiscal year 2022 from 2,037,000 in fiscal year 2020.
The 800 number wait times could also drop to 12 minutes in 2022 from 16 minutes in 2020.
Ultimately, it is up to Congress to approve the funding Biden has requested.
There should be a lot of support for that on the Hill due to a Democratic majority, Adcock said. "We just want to make sure that happens as the appropriations process moves forward."
Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., who serves as chairman of the House Ways and Means' subcommittee on Social Security, has voiced his support.
"President Biden's budget proposal includes the necessary increases for the Social Security Administration [SSA] to help Americans access the benefits they're earned," Larson said in a statement.
In contrast, former President Donald Trump's budget proposal last year sought to slash the program's funding.
In March, Saul detailed how the government agency has adjusted its services amid the pandemic to emphasize virtual meetings and online services. Some of those changes could continue, he said at the time.
More than $5 billion of the proposed $14.2 billion budget would go to payroll costs for frontline employees who work at the administration's field offices, 800 phone number and processing centers, according to the Social Security Administration.
Additionally, more than $2.7 billion would be earmarked for disability determinations, including existing staff, new hires and other expenses at state disability determination centers. The administration plans to maintain the 10% increase in staff — or 1,300 additional employees — that it took on in the 2021 fiscal year.
More than $2.1 billion would fund the modernization of the administration's IT infrastructure.
Another $1.7 billion would pay for the expansion of the anti-fraud disability investigations program, as well as the completion of program integrity reviews.
More than $1.1 billion is slated for payroll costs for employees in the hearings division.
In addition, $96 million would be dedicated to additional outreach for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits. The goal would be to contact vulnerable people who are eligible for benefits, such as adults and children with disabilities, and the homeless.
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