Social Security backlog will grow if sequestration forces furlough

The Social Security Administration warned that backlog for retirement and disability claims will grow exponentially if sequestration forces the agency to lay off and furlough employees.

“It’s important to understand that sequestration would further exacerbate the negative effects of over two straight years of funding levels nearly $1 billion below the President’s budget requests,” wrote SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue.

The sequester cuts set to take effect on March 1 would necessitate the layoff of 1,500 temporary employees, the loss of 5,000 of full-time employees through attrition, the elimination of overtime, and about $25 million in employee furloughs.

As a result, the wait time at SSA field offices would grow to 30 minutes; wait time for call inquiries would grow to 10 minutes; and decisions on initial disability claims would be delayed by at least 2 weeks.

According to Astrue, each day of furlough – or temporary unpaid leave – would mean that 20,000 retirement claims, 10,000 disability claims, and 3,000 hearings would not be completed.

“The longer it takes us to get to our incoming work, the more expensive it is to complete, and the greater the burden on the public,” Astrue wrote.

Astrue also pointed out that the growing backlog of Social Security claims would “delay money going into state and local economies” since it would take longer for the claimants to receive their first checks.


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