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SSA Receives Reduced Budget In FY 2019

2018 October 23
by Steve Perrigo

The Social Security Administration can expect reduced administrative funding in fiscal year (FY) 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019) when compared with FY2018.

Congress passed and President Trump signed a minibus appropriations act that incorporated SSA funding and offered $12 million less in total Limitation on Administrative Expenses (LAE). The budget allocates $12,741,945,000 for the current fiscal year, which is a decline from $12,753,945,000 in FY 2018.

The allocation stipulated a $52 million reduction in funds directed to program integrity activities, including Continuing Disability Reviews. With the SSA’s reported progress in eliminating the CDRs backlog, the difference in allocation should provide up to $40 million toward other SSA operations. Information technology funding also declined from $280 million to $45 million for FY 2019, though unspent funds provided in 2018 may roll-over to the current fiscal year.

One bright spot is $100 million allocated toward reducing the disability hearing backlog in FY 2019, with the ability to rollover unspent funds through the end of FY 2020.

Although the allocations result in a slight increase in funding to core SSA operations, essentially it represents a decline due to an estimated $300 million in fixed cost increases, such as facilities and personnel, which take a larger bite of administrative costs each year. 

The bill also contained guidance for the SSA on key reports and operations, including oversight of administrative law judges (ALJs). It states, “It is vital that Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) be independent, impartial, and selected based on their qualifications. The conferees expect SSA to maintain a high standard for the appointment of ALJs, including the requirement that ALJs have demonstrated experience as a licensed attorney and pass an ALJ examination administered by the Office of Personnel Management.”

 

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