Hearing Before the Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies U.S. House of Representatives

April 13, 2000

Statement by the Commissioner of Social Security on Fiscal Year 2001 Appropriation Requests


Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here today to present the fiscal year (FY) 2001 appropriation requests of the Social Security Administration (SSA). This budget supports SSA's mission: "To promote the economic security of the nation's people through compassionate and vigilant leadership in shaping and managing America's social security programs." In FY 2001, we will continue our efforts to safeguard the public's investment in Social Security programs, improve our program management, and provide excellent customer service as we meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The President's FY 2001 budget request for administration of SSA's programs - including $7.134 billion for the Limitation on Administrative Expenses (LAE), $73 million for the Office of the Inspector General, and $30 million for research - will provide the resources for SSA to serve the public in FY 2001 and meet the growing challenges of the new century.

Before focusing on the century ahead, I want to state that the 20th century closed on a high note for us. I am excited to provide the following to you as examples:

  • SSA was one of the first Federal agencies to start work on the Y2K problem[t1], and our conversion went smoothly. We worked closely with the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and the Postal Service to ensure that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income checks and direct deposit payments for January 2000 and beyond were paid timely and without interruption.
  • SSA received a "clean" opinion (meaning our financial statements are reliable) from the Inspector General for its FY 1999 financial statements. Only 11 out of 24 major Federal agencies reported on their financial statements by March 1, as required by the Chief Financial Officers Act, and received "clean" opinions on their statements. [t2]
  • In the two years that Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs' multi-year Government Performance Project has been underway, SSA is one of only two Federal agencies to receive an "A" [t3]for its management performance. The overall, average grade for the 20 agencies assessed was a "B-."[t4]
  • As a final example, our customers also think that we are doing a pretty good job. In December 1999, the results of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which surveyed SSA customers currently receiving retirement benefits, revealed that SSA's customer service was rated one of the highest of participating Federal government agencies and almost 10 points higher than the comparable private sector index.

Overview of SSA's Programs & Overall Budget

I would like to now take a moment to provide you with a brief overview of the programs that SSA administers and the Agency's overall budget. Because virtually all Americans have the benefit protection provided by Social Security's programs and nearly one in five receives benefits, we can say that SSA touches the lives of virtually every American. Social Security provides protection against loss of earnings due to retirement, disability and death. While it is often thought of as a retirement program, Social Security also provides benefits to disabled workers, their families, and to surviving family members of deceased workers. Social Security disability and survivors benefits are a critical source of income for workers and families during a vulnerable time in their lives. And, thanks to the strong, bipartisan effort last year on the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, disabled beneficiaries who want to work will be able to utilize enhanced return-to-work initiatives that we will continue to implement.

SSA also administers the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program which is funded not through Social Security taxes, but from general revenues, and provides payments to financially needy individuals who are aged, blind or disabled. A new program, title VIII of the Social Security Act, that authorizes benefit payments for certain World War II veterans, also is funded from general revenues.

For FY 2001, 98 percent of the $461 billion that SSA will outlay will be paid in the form of monthly benefits to 50 million Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), Disability Insurance (DI), Federal SSI, and Black Lung beneficiaries. The remaining funds will support SSA's ability to deliver services. For example, this funding supports activities such as the following:

  • On average, each workday about 100,000 people visit one of our 1,300 field offices and over 240,000 people call our 800-number;
  • Each workday we process an average of 20,000 initial claims for retirement, survivors, disability or SSI benefits, and hold 2,400 hearings before Administrative Law Judges; and
  • Each year, we make certain that over 250 million earnings items are correctly credited to workers' accounts to ensure that future benefit payments are accurate.
It is important to note that the administrative resources required to make benefit payments and to manage the Social Security programs are part of the appropriation requests that we are asking you to support.

Limitation on Administrative Expenses

It is our LAE account that provides the resources to administer the OASDI programs, the SSI program, certain health insurance functions, and the new title VIII program. It supports our efforts to improve our policy, research and analysis capabilities; eliminate fraud, waste and abuse; and deliver service to all of our customers.

The President's budget request for SSA's LAE account before you today is for $7.134 billion[t5]. I can say that reductions from this funding level may lead to lower levels of service[t6]. The President's FY 2001 LAE request for $7.134 billion [t7]includes:

  • $6.684 billion for basic day-to-day operating expenses, including $91 million derived from user fees paid by States for Federal administration of State supplementation of SSI payments; and
  • $450 million in discretionary cap-adjusted funding to conduct additional continuing disability reviews (CDRs).

The administrative resources requested in the LAE appropriation will enable SSA to maintain level staffing and:

  • Pay benefits to about 50 million people every month;
  • Issue 16 million new and replacement Social Security number cards;
  • Handle 57 million calls to SSA's 800-number with a 92 percent 5-minute access rate;
  • Post 259 million earnings items to workers' earnings records;
  • Process 1.7 million periodic CDRs;
  • Complete 2.1 million SSI non-disability redeterminations of eligibility;
  • Process 3.1 million retirement and survivors claims, 2.1 million initial disability claims, and 582 thousand hearings; and
  • Issue 126 million Social Security Statements to covered workers.

I will now highlight some of the issues and initiatives related to SSA's FY 2001 budget request.

Strategic Management and Accountability

SSA is committed both to the concepts of the Government Performance and Results Act and to improving our ability to manage for results on a day-to-day basis at all levels of the organization. SSA has been publishing an Agency Strategic Plan since 1988. Our latest, entitled "Keeping the Promise," was SSA's first as an independent agency and was published in September 1997.

SSA issued its most recent Accountability Report in November 1999 to document the results of the Agency's performance in FY 1999. I am proud that both the Strategic Plan and the Accountability Report have been well received by the Congress. At SSA, we continue to respond to the concerns of this Committee, the Congress, our employees, and other stakeholders in communicating the overall direction of the Agency and the specific performance goals by which we will be held accountable. I am pleased to say that SSA's Annual Performance Plan (APP) for FY 2000 received from the General Accounting Office one of the highest scores among Federal agencies last year. SSA's APP for FY 2001 was delivered to Congress earlier this month.

The dawning of the 21 ST century brings with it many new challenges for SSA. Because the baby boom generation is aging, and a large number of people are in their late 40's and 50's, our current estimates indicate that new claims for all types of benefits will increase over the next 10 years by 23 percent, from 6.3 million to 7.8 million, roughly double the level of increase experienced in the 1990's. Our initial retirement claims workload will increase by roughly 21 percent by 2010, and our initial disability claims workload will increase by roughly 25 percent by 2010.

Future customer expectations, rapid change in information technology coupled with the expected workload growth created by the baby boomers, and, simultaneously, a maturing workforce and limited resources, create the compelling need for the Agency to develop a vision that looks beyond our current 5-year planning horizon. We are developing a vision that takes SSA out 10 years. This vision, called the "2010 Vision," will allow us to make better long-term investment decisions and to coordinate strategies and efforts toward long-term service goals. We can influence the direction of change only if we have a long-term vision of where we want to go. The "2010 Vision" will outline our view of service in the future, what work we will do in 2010, and how we will do it. It will describe how the Agency will respond to trends in our external environment that signal continuing rapid changes in society, particularly in the use of information technology. It will provide enough detail to shape the Agency's strategic plan, and drive our action plans and budgets to move us into the future.

Policy Development and Research

Since becoming an independent agency, we have made significant investments in our policy development and research infrastructure. For example, SSA established a separate Office of Policy, from which to design, coordinate, and effectively undertake research and policy development efforts that respond to the needs of Agency policy makers, the Congress, and the public. One of SSA's five strategic goals is, "To promote valued, strong and responsive social security programs and conduct effective policy development, research and program evaluation."

The extramural research budget that we propose for FY 2001 is $30 million (including $7 million in base research funding classified by the Office of Management and Budget as "mandatory under Appropriations Committee jurisdiction" under the Budget Enforcement Act), which will allow us to continue the efforts that we have begun over the past several years. These resources will enable SSA to continue research efforts on long-range solvency issues, the effects of demographic and economic changes on program beneficiaries, and understanding disability program growth and factors that promote self-sufficiency and return to work.

Anti-Fraud Initiatives and Program Integrity

Ensuring the integrity of our programs is an SSA priority. The public rightfully expects us to be vigilant stewards of its tax dollars. SSA is committed to improving the administration of its programs while maintaining a policy of zero tolerance for fraud and abuse.

National Anti-Fraud Committee

The Agency's wide-ranging zero tolerance effort is coordinated through the National Anti-Fraud Committee, which includes SSA senior staff, and is co-chaired by the Deputy Commissioner for Finance, Assessment, and Management and SSA's Inspector General. In addition to developing its own anti-fraud initiatives, the National Committee oversees and supports Regional Anti-Fraud Committees, which were set up to coordinate anti-fraud strategies in each of SSA's 10 regions. The Regional Committees include regional commissioners and other senior SSA and Office of Inspector General staff as well as managers of SSA district offices.


Perhaps SSA's biggest contributors to our anti-fraud efforts are the employees in our approximately 1,300 field offices, whose commitment to maintaining the integrity of the Social Security program is unswerving. Often, it is field office and Disability Determination Services employees who are able to uncover suspicious or fraudulent schemes. These employees are our biggest assets in our fight against fraud. We will continue to train them in anti-fraud practices and seek additional tools to make their anti-fraud commitment easier and more effective.

Office of the Inspector General

Since becoming an independent agency in March 1995, we have had our own Inspector General whose mission is to protect the integrity of SSA's programs. A strong Office of the Inspector General (OIG), working together with SSA employees in local offices, is the most effective means we have to control fraud and abuse in the programs we administer. To strengthen the OIG's capacity to accomplish its mission, SSA has continued to increase the resources available to the OIG, more than doubling its staff since FY 1996. Our FY 2001 budget request for the OIG includes an increase of more than 10 percent over last year to support increased attention to deterring fraudulent activities and identifying and bringing to justice those who commit fraud, whether members of the public or employees.

Stronger Management of the SSI Program

We take very seriously the responsibility entrusted to us for managing the SSI program, and this budget focuses on several activities designed to improve our stewardship of it. These include: increasing the number of SSI non-disability redeterminations processed and improving payment accuracy through the increased use of computer matches and real-time access to key payment-related information. Fully funding our budget request will enable SSA to process more than 2 million SSI non-disability redeterminations. This will help ensure that those who receive SSI payments are meeting program requirements and are receiving the correct benefit amount. Hundreds of millions of dollars in payment changes are made as a result of the redeterminations we process.

In addition, we are increasing the use and frequency of computer matches with other Federal, State and local entities to detect overpayments earlier. For example, last year SSA began a monthly matching operation to detect nursing home admissions in all 50 States. Previously, these matches occurred on an annual basis, and the database did not contain data for all the States.

While computer matches help us detect inaccurate payments, we also will continue efforts to provide our field offices with real-time access to State databases that include wages, unemployment compensation, vehicle ownership, and other information that will help us prevent overpayments before they occur.

Safeguarding the Integrity of Disability Programs

While committed to providing timely and compassionate service to our customers, SSA is equally committed to ensuring that only those individuals who meet program eligibility requirements come onto the rolls and that only those who continue to be disabled remain on the rolls. In support of that objective, our budget plan calls for processing additional CDRs in order to ensure program integrity, to rebuild public confidence in our programs, and to carry out congressional mandates. We are confident that our CDR strategy will lead to reliable and cost-effective monitoring of the disability rolls.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Committee for providing additional funds, through an adjustment to discretionary spending caps, for this crucial workload. We are now in our fifth year of a seven-year plan to become current in processing periodic CDRs and have made very good progress towards our goal. In FY 1996, the first year of the plan, we processed approximately .5 million CDRs. As of the end of FY 1999, we have completed roughly 46 percent of our 7-year plan. With our FY 2000 budget commitment of 1.8 million CDRs processed and our FY 2001 budget request supporting the processing of another 1.7 million, we expect to meet the commitment we made to become current by the end of FY 2002. SSA expects to obligate about $650 million in FY 2001 to process periodic CDRs. This includes $200 million base funding and an additional $450 million in "above the cap" funding. Over the course of our 7-year plan, we expect, on average, to realize lifetime program savings of at least $6 for every $1 in administrative cost.

Debt Collection

We strive to achieve high levels of payment accuracy in order to minimize the amount of program dollars paid incorrectly. However, due to the dynamics of our programs, it is inevitable that some debt will be created. SSA's debt management program currently makes use of many of the debt collection tools available under existing law, and we are in the process of implementing the remainder.

In FY 1999, SSA collected more than $1.8 billion in debt. For FYs 2000 and 2001, SSA is developing two new debt collection tools: Mandatory Cross Program Recovery and Administrative Wage Garnishment. We also plan to develop the use of remaining debt collection authorities authorized by the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, such as extending to the SSI program all of the debt collection authorities currently available for the collection of overpayments under the OASDI program[t8].

Improving Administration of the Disability Programs

Improving administration of our Social Security and SSI disability programs continues to be a priority for this Agency. This budget builds on our efforts to improve disability program administration by continuing to implement changes to the disability adjudication process, supporting our Hearings Process Improvement initiative, and enhancing beneficiaries' opportunity to work.

Improving the Disability Adjudication Process

After testing various process improvements over the past several years and examining the results of the tests, we are prototyping the most successful features of these process changes in 10 State Disability Determination Services. The prototypes will improve the initial disability adjudication process by:

  • Providing greater decisional authority to disability examiners and making more effective use of medical consultant expertise;
  • Ensuring appropriate development and explanations in initial claims;
  • Increasing claimant interaction with the decision maker; and
  • Simplifying the appeals process by eliminating the reconsideration step.

By taking this incremental approach, we will be able to assess more effectively the operational effects of these process changes and refine subsequent process improvements before moving to national implementation.

Hearings Process Improvement Initiative

Over the past several years, the Agency has taken steps to improve the quality and timeliness of service provided during the hearing process. In fact, in FY 1999 we reduced the number of hearings pending and decreased the average number of days to receive a decision. However, I recognize that further improvements are needed. Accordingly, in August 1999, I released the Agency's Hearing Process Improvement (HPI) Plan. Its goal is to reduce hearings processing time to less than 200 days in FY 2002, by achieving administrative efficiencies, implementing group-based accountability, and improving our automation and data collection-without additional resources. HPI seeks to make hearings more timely, efficient, and customer-focused. In January 2000, HPI was initiated in 37 hearing offices in States that also were selected to prototype enhancements to the initial disability process.

Appeals Council Process Improvement Plan

The Appeals Council provides the final level of administrative review for claims under the Social Security Act. The Appeals Council is also responsible for overseeing the preparation of the administrative record filed in Federal court proceedings and for initiating further administrative actions as required by those court proceedings. As a result of its burgeoning workloads, processing times at the Appeals Council have reached unacceptably high levels.

We have just released the Appeals Council Process Improvement Plan which focuses on reducing pending workloads and processing times in the near term and developing an operational structure that can continue to deliver high-quality, timely and efficient case processing for the long term. In the meantime, we have redirected resources in FY 2000 to help deal with the Appeals Council backlog, and we have budgeted for a further increase in FY 2001.

Enhancing Beneficiaries' Opportunities to Work

Last year's passage of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 further supports our efforts to enhance disability beneficiaries' opportunities to work by providing a combination of incentives and supports to individuals who want to work. This budget requests $58 million in administrative funding directed to work incentive activities, including:

  • Program management contracts to administer the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program;
  • Establishment of a corps of SSA employment support specialists; and
  • Implementation of work incentives planning, assistance and outreach program grants.

SSA is proceeding to implement the legislation this year. The President's budget for FY 2000 included some funding for work incentive activities, but additional costs for implementing the new legislation are being absorbed within the enacted appropriation for FY 2000.

Our Service Delivery Challenge

For several years, in response to a request from this Subcommittee, SSA's annual budget has included specific workload and performance commitments commensurate with the funding levels requested. I am pleased to report that, in FY 1999, we met or exceeded our commitments for 800-number service calls handled and 5-minute access rate, periodic CDRs processed, and SSI redeterminations processed. Although we did not meet all of our ambitious disability and hearings commitments, we were able to reduce hearings pending in FY 1999.

This year has been a particularly challenging one for SSA. In November 1999, the Congress passed an appropriation bill which reduced the President's request for SSA's administrative costs by more than $200 million. I strongly supported the President's veto of that legislation, which would have resulted in large disruptions in service and harm to millions of elderly and disabled Americans who depend on our programs for their support.

I was pleased that part of this reduction was restored, in part by funding some unbudgeted cost increases with unspent money from FY 1999. Still, when all was said and done, we wound up about $75 million short of what was needed to meet our promised service commitments. The FY 2000 Operating Plan, submitted to the Subcommittee in January 2000, updated our FY 2000 performance commitments to reflect the funding level appropriated as well as unbudgeted cost increases. Compared to commitments based on the FY 2000 President's budget funding level, our performance commitments for 800-number calls handled and 5-minute access rate were lowered, as were estimates of disability claims and hearings processed and SSI redeterminations completed.

The budget request before this Subcommittee provides for investment in automation and other efficiencies that will enable us to process more work in FY 2001 than in FY 2000, while maintaining most service levels in the face of growing demands. However, this challenge will create stresses and strains on all parts of the Agency as we strive to meet expectations, while managing for results.

This budget request supports several initiatives, which are key to providing world-class service and helping to shape an agency that works better and costs less. Some examples of these initiatives include:

  • Telephone Service: While the Agency has, for years, been considered a leader in high-quality telephone service delivery, increasing demands have made it more and more difficult to maintain that capability. Despite budget resource limitations and expanding service demands, SSA remains committed to taking proactive steps toward responding to customer needs and expectations. This budget will support today's telephone service through technological enhancements that will allow SSA to manage call delivery better and more effectively direct calls to agents with the skills to answer the caller's questions. This budget will maintain telephone performance at the FY 2000 level in terms of the volume of calls handled and the 5-minute access rate.
  • In addition, I plan to obtain a better understanding of what the private sector is doing with their telephone services. Specifically, I want to know what standards, other than access rates, private organizations are emphasizing in measuring the quality of the telephone service they provide, and what level of resources they make available for doing so.
  • Expand Electronic Service Delivery: A growing number of customers want to conduct government business electronically as they become accustomed to doing commercial business in this way. To provide customer-responsive service, SSA must continue to carefully monitor the ongoing shift in our customers' preferences and prepare to steadily expand service delivery options in response to customer expectations. Recently, SSA added two new online services, an electronic newsletter that provides the latest Social Security information of public interest and a new retirement planner that allows individuals to compute estimates of their future Social Security retirement benefits. SSA will continue efforts to increase the services offered electronically to allow customers to complete their business with SSA at the initial point of contact. Consistent with appropriate privacy/security safeguards, the Agency will add online functionality incrementally. This will enable SSA to improve customer service and realize some savings by increasing access to public information and forms while developing more complex online data collection and processing functions.
  • Electronic Payment Services: SSA is continuing efforts to improve benefit payment delivery services by increasing the number of benefits paid by direct deposit. As of January 2000, 78 percent of the OASDI beneficiary population participates in the direct deposit program. SSA will continue to work with the Treasury Department to encourage the use of direct deposit, or a number of alternatives for the remaining beneficiaries who are receiving Social Security and SSI checks. In addition, SSA is working to make Treasury's electronic transfer account web site available in SSA field offices to better serve recipients who inquire about their payment options.

Increasing Public Understanding

One of SSA's basic responsibilities is to ensure that the public is informed about Social Security programs. Last year, we undertook a review of our Social Security Statement and made significant revisions to provide the American public with more simplified and understandable information for use in planning for their retirement needs. In FY 2001, we will send a total of 126 million statements, including one to each covered worker aged 25 and over not currently receiving benefits.

The Commissioner's Budget Request

Pursuant to the Committee's request, I will provide information on the Commissioner's budget for FY 2001, consistent with the Independent Agency statute. In this budget, I requested $7.466 billion for SSA's administrative expenses, including $7.356 billion [t9]for the LAE account. This budget funded a moderate increase in staffing for SSA and the State Disability Determination Services (DDS), and creation of a Capital Investment Fund. The staffing increase was for reducing postentitlement backlogs, improving service levels in our field offices, hearing offices, 800-number operations, and in the DDSs; and implementing recent legislation, mainly return to work.

The President's budget is the result of months of negotiations. The President faces constraints that require him to choose among competing priorities to keep the overall Federal budget in balance pending decisions on the future of the nation's Social Security program. It is clear that the President strongly supports SSA and its mission, including the stabilized staffing reflected in his request. The President's budget was arrived at with my support.

Other FY 2001 Appropriation Requests

In addition to LAE, we have four other requests before this Committee: Office of the Inspector General, Supplemental Security Income, Special Benefits for Disabled Coal Miners, and Payments to Social Security Trust Funds. Social Security trust fund benefit payments are permanently appropriated, and therefore are not part of the budget requests before this Committee. I would like to turn now to a brief summary of these other appropriation requests for FY 2001.

Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

$73 million for OIG - These funds will cover OIG's operating expenses, including salaries for its staff and other costs such as rent and supplies. We continue to make significant investments in the OIG as we pursue our goal of zero tolerance for fraud and abuse in SSA programs. Over the period FY 1995 to FY 2000, we have increased full-time permanent staffing at the OIG from 242 to 579, more than doubling its capacity to prevent, identify, prosecute and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. The request for FY 2001 is an increase of more than 10 percent over last year's level and will enable the OIG to maintain current service levels and expand highly-effective initiatives, including: Cooperative Disability Investigations Teams that investigate and prevent disability fraud; SSN misuse pilot projects focused on investigating allegations of identity theft; and the Fugitive Felon Project created to identify individuals illegally receiving SSI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

$33.2 billion for the SSI Program - The SSI program ensures a minimum monthly level of income to eligible aged, blind, and disabled individuals. An individual's income, resources, and living arrangements are evaluated in computing the actual amount of payment. This request includes almost $30.5 billion for Federal benefit payments to more than 6.4 million aged, blind and disabled beneficiaries; $2.6 billion in payments to reimburse the Social Security trust funds for SSI administrative expenses; $71 million for beneficiary services; and $30 million for research and demonstration projects.

Special Benefits for Disabled Coal Miners

$489.7 million for Special Benefits for Disabled Coal Miners - These funds cover benefit payments and administrative expenses for that portion of the Black Lung program for which SSA is responsible.

Payments to Social Security Trust Funds

$20.4 million for Payments to Social Security Trust Funds - This request will serve to reimburse the Social Security trust funds for the costs of certain benefits and administrative expenses properly charged to Federal funds.

Supplemental Request for FY 2000

Before I conclude, I would like to take this moment to voice my support for the President's $35 million FY 2000 supplemental appropriation request for SSA to fund one-time costs for implementation of the Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act of 2000. This legislation, signed by the President on April 7, 2000, eliminates Social Security's Retirement Earnings Test for retirees at or above normal retirement age, retroactive to January 1, 2000.[t10]

In addition, it is important that supplemental language be enacted, as proposed by the President, to repeal the provision in the "Balanced Budget Act of 1997" (BBA) that calls for the SSI benefit payment for October 2000 to be made on October 2, 2000 (FY 2001). Generally, SSI payments are made on the first of the month, unless that day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday; in which case the payment reverts to the preceding Friday. The BBA altered the regular procedure for this SSI payment in order to delay it from Friday September 29, 2000 (FY 2000) to FY 2001. Restoring the regular SSI payment date for October 2000 would help prevent hardship on vulnerable SSI beneficiaries who may be depending on the regular payment date in order to meet their expenses for food and shelter. [t11]


Social Security is the most successful domestic program in the nation's history and arguably the single most effective anti-poverty program ever created. It allows millions of people, who would otherwise suffer economic devastation in old age, to live with dignity. Without Social Security, one-half of today's elderly would be living in poverty. One of the top priorities of the Administration is to continue the fiscal discipline of the past seven years to help preserve and strengthen Social Security for current and future generations.

SSA is considered by the public to be among the most responsive public service agencies in government, and the recent Syracuse University report indicates we are one of the best-managed as well. Critical successes notwithstanding, we recognize both our continuing obligation to be responsible and careful stewards of the programs we administer, and the ongoing challenges in managing for results as we push the organization to get our work accomplished.

The FY 2001 budget - including $7.134 billion for LAE, $73 million for the Inspector General, and $30 million for research - will provide the resources to help respond to these challenges. The increase in our administrative budget request will support level full-time permanent staffing and maintain most service levels in the face of growing demands, as we work to ensure continuing economic security for all Americans, improve program management, and meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Mr. Chairman, SSA's administrative budget is primarily the cost of its employees. Our employees, wherever they are located, need to be reassured that adequate resources are available to them to do their jobs completely. I believe there is no more dedicated workforce than Social Security's.

Thank you for the opportunity to present SSA's budget request to this Committee. I ask you to support this request and I welcome any questions you may have.