U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an event at the Royal Castle, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 2022.
Aleksandra Szmigiel | Reuters
President Joe Biden’s proposed budget for 2023 aims to give the Social Security Administration more funding to improve services.
Some groups say the increase doesn’t go far enough.
Biden wants to ramp up discretionary funding for the Social Security Administration in his proposed 2023 budget by $1.8 billion, for a total of $14.8 billion. That’s about a 14% increase from funding levels enacted in 2021 for the government agency, which administers retirement, disability and survivor benefits for about 70 million Americans.
Under the proposed $14.8 billion budget, $1.6 billion more (also a 14% increase over 2021) would go toward improving the agency’s services, while efforts to protect the program’s integrity would get $224 million more than in 2021.
Biden also sought more money for Social Security last year, having proposed a 9.7% increase, or $14.2 billion total, for 2022, to help improve customer service amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The additional $1.6 billion for services would go to field offices, state disability determination services and teleservice centers. In addition, the funds would also be used to add staff to help reduce wait times and speed up the processing of disability claims.
The proposal would also enable the agency to make changes to help ensure everyone who needs its services can access them, including people who are homeless, children with disabilities or adults with intellectual or mental disabilities.
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The $224 million increase from 2021 for protecting the program’s integrity would bring the total to $1.8 billion. Those funds would make ensure the program is providing the correct benefits to those who qualify and that the program’s funds are being spent responsibly. That money would also go to help support the investigation and prosecution of fraud.
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare praised the proposed funding for the Social Security Administration’s operations, which “have been strained by the pandemic and more than a decade of GOP-forced spending cuts,” the non-profit advocacy group said on Monday.
The funding could help reduce customer service bottlenecks, including long wait times on the agency’s 800 number and for disability hearings, and help the agency reopen field offices that were shuttered during the pandemic, it said.
However, the group also said it hoped to see more in the budget.
“While we appreciate many aspects of the President’s FY2023 budget proposal, we had hoped that it would reflect efforts by Democrats in Congress to boost Social Security, including a much-needed increase in benefits and an adjustment of the payroll wage cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share into the system,” Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement.
VALERIE MACON | AFP | Getty Images
A bill was reintroduced in Congress by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., in October that would provide a benefit boost for new and existing beneficiaries, amounting to about 2% of the average benefit. In addition, it would also set a higher minimum benefit for low-income workers.
That legislation also seeks to increase the Social Security taxes paid by higher-wage earners by reapplying payroll taxes for those earning $400,000 and up. Currently, those payroll taxes of 6.2% paid by both the employee and employer are applied only to wages up to $147,000 in 2022.
Biden’s new budget proposal also comes as the trust funds on which Social Security relies to pay benefits are projected to be depleted in 2034. At that point, 78% of promised benefits will be payable.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-profit organization, took issue with the fact that Biden’s budget did not address that.
“The budget does not go far enough toward putting the nation’s fiscal house back in order, nor does it tackle the tougher tradeoffs necessary to responsibly prevent Social Security, Medicare, and Highway Trust Fund insolvency,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement.