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Congressman Al Lawson

Representing the 5th District of Florida

Social Security Administration Should be Exempt from Federal Hiring Freeze

March 21, 2017
Press Release
50 U.S. Representatives Send letter to President Trump requesting exemption

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Reps. Al Lawson (FL-5) and Darren Soto (FL-9) sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump asking him to exempt the Social Security Administration from the federal hiring freeze “to ensure that the American people receive the first-class service they have already earned through a lifetime of hard work.”

Fifty lawmakers have signed on to the letter, noting that “Social Security is efficiently administered, spending less than a penny of every dollar on administration; all while the American population is rapidly aging with 10,000 people, on average, turning 65 every day.”

Since 2010, the administrative budget of the SSA has declined by 10 percent, while the number of beneficiaries has increased by more than 12 percent. This led to 64 field offices closing, a disability hearings backlog with an average of a 540-day waiting period, increased wait times at every point of contact, and extended durations for retirement and disability appointments.

The lawmakers cited a concern that the hiring freeze will make it more difficult for people to receive their benefits.

You can read the full letter here and below.

 

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Trump:

As Chief Executive of the United States, your obligation to respond to the changing needs of the public is critical to serving our country. It is with this responsibility in mind that we ask you to consider exempting the Social Security Administration (SSA) from the hiring freeze.

Social Security is efficiently administered, spending less than a penny of every dollar on admi1nistration; all while the American population is rapidly aging with 10,000 people, on average, turning 65 every day.

SSA nor its related administrative costs does not add a penny to the national debt. Although some in Congress refuse to acknowledge that many presidents, including President Ronald Reagan, have tried hard to dispel the myth that it does. According to the latest Trustees Report, Social Security currently has a $2.8 trillion surplus that is only continuing to grow.

Consequently, we strongly urge you to exempt SSA from your hiring freeze so that the agency can direct surplus funding to ensure that the American people receive the first-class service they have already earned through a lifetime of hard work.

Unfortunately, our current trajectory has us headed in the wrong direction. Since 2010, the administrative budget of SSA has declined by 10 percent, after adjusting for inflation, while the number of beneficiaries has increased by more than 12 percent. This had led to the closure of 64 field offices nationwide, a disability hearings backlog with an average of a 540-day waiting period, increased wait times at every point of contact, and extended durations for retirement and disability appointments. Field offices, payment centers, and disability determination services throughout the country are feeling the effects of increased demand as the population ages.

SSA, due to this dire funding shortage, has already been under an agency-imposed hiring freeze since last spring. The hiring freeze memorandum prevents SSA from replacing agency employees who are retiring at rates similar to that of the American workforce, and ultimately will lead to a declination in the quality of programs that served over 60 million Americans in 2016.

On the campaign trail, you promised to not cut Social Security—particularly the benefits for our seniors. However, a hiring freeze does indirectly cut those benefits, by making it harder for workers and their families to access the benefits they have earned in a timely fashion. 

We are concerned that the hiring freeze will make it more difficult for the citizens to receive the service they deserve. We ask you to exempt SSA from the hiring freeze both to uphold your Administration’s promise, and to fulfill our government’s obligation to the beneficiaries and the American public.

 

Respectfully,

Al Lawson, Jr.                                                                Darren Soto

Sandford Bishop                                                             Earl Blumenauer

Anthony Brown                                                              Julia Brownley

Tony Cardenas                                                               Andre Carson

Kathy Castor                                                                  Judy Chu

David Cicilline                                                               Steve Cohen

John Conyers                                                                 Jim Costa

Charlie Crist                                                                   Peter DeFazio

John Delaney                                                                 Ted Deutch

Debbie Dingell                                                               Ruben Gallego

John Garamendi                                                             Raul Grijalva

Luis Gutierrez                                                                Alcee Hastings

Brian Higgins                                                                 Eleanor Holmes Norton

Pramila Jayapal                                                              William Keating

 

Ro Khanna                                                                     Brenda Lawrence

Barbara Lee                                                                    Zoe Lofgren

Alan Lowenthal                                                             Michelle Lujan Grisham

Carolyn Maloney                                                           Doris Matsui

Betty McCollum                                                             James McGovern

Jerry McNerney                                                              Grace Napolitano

Tom O’Halleran                                                             Chellie Pingree

Mark Pocan                                                                    Jamie Raskin

Dutch Ruppersberger                                                     Adam Schiff

Kurt Schrader                                                                Bobby Scott

Carol Shea-Porter                                                          Nydia Velazquez

Debbie Wasserman Schultz                                          Daniel Zawitoski