Finding Value—and my Social Security—in light of Budget Cuts

January 9, 2017 • By

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Last Updated: January 14, 2021

man and woman on computerEvery payday, you have Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and Self-Employed Contributions Act (SECA) taxes deducted from your paycheck. Nearly all of these contributions are used to pay Social Security benefits to more than 60 million retired, disabled, and widowed workers and their children, as well as to Medicare beneficiaries. A very small amount also helps pay for the work it takes to manage Social Security programs.

Providing Social Security services to the public is a big job. We have fewer than 64,000 employees in offices across the country handling millions of transactions yearly — taking applications, answering questions in person and on the phone, verifying benefit amounts, and reviewing appeals, among other things. The cost of doing these services is less than one penny out of each dollar paid in FICA and SECA taxes, which is a very good value.

Lawmakers in Congress decide each year how much money we can use to manage our programs and pay our staff. Because that hasn’t been settled yet, we’re operating under a continuing resolution (CR) with less funding than last year. This is not new for us. In fact, the amount we have to run our programs is 10 percent lower than it was in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. At the same time, the number of beneficiaries we serve has gone up by 13 percent. So, we have fewer resources to serve more people.

We made some difficult decisions because of these latest budget limits. During the past year, we began a hiring freeze that will reduce our staff to the lowest level since FY 2013. We use a lot less overtime now, which affects our ability to reduce critical backlogs. Over a million people are waiting for a hearing to see if they are eligible for disability benefits.

Today, we are taking another cost-saving step. We will mail fewer paper Social Security Statements. Paper Statements will only be sent to people age 60 and over, who are not getting benefits and don’t have a my Social Security account. This will bring down the costs of processing and mailing paper Statements by $11.3 million in FY 2017.

We know that our cutbacks will affect many of you, but we have no choice. We will continue to serve you and work for you as best we can. Congress has until April 28, 2017, to pass a spending bill for the full year or pass another CR. While we can’t predict our budget level for the rest of the fiscal year, we think there may be more bumps in our journey together. We’ll do our best to get through them so you will have a secure today and tomorrow.

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Virgil

    The work you guys and gals do is terrific. Too many people think SS is welfare. They need to do their homework. This is money we’ve paid ourselves over our working life. Now if the gov would repeal to SS tax, that would help.

  2. Barb

    Benefits for retirees is not an is a return on our investment into the fund over 40-50 years and more. I believe the cost of the work you do is important and should be funded with contributions we have made. A yearly statement of those costs are how we know what we pay for that service.

  3. Teresita B.

    So many United States Citizens depends on Social Security as a source to pay a home, get medicines, and get their everyday living necessities, and we appreciate all the good americans everywhere working to make this come true. Good Bless America.

  4. Joseph

    You mean you will not be sending out 1099’s?

    • AKA

      They don’t mean that at all.

      • Kourtney

        I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve inetoprraocd you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my web site .

  5. tony

    The people applying for SSI don’t pay any FICA taxes to pay for the SSA’s administrative expenses. They call up their stupid Congressman to speed up their case. They harass the SSA employees everyday about their case over the phone. The stupid Congressman can’t even increase the SSA’s budget to pay for their freeloaders constituents.

    • Martha

      Le intenzioni? Facile, nessuno va in giro con un coltello!Il danno? Ancora più facile, senza l&3ac;a9coltell#tore non avrebbe mai potuto subire un danno di quel tipo.ciao ciao

  6. Patricia

    Get congress to pay back the fund with interest! Who do they think they are taking our money & not putting it back! I’m sick of all the corruption in this administration & congress. It seems they are untouchable!!

    • AKA

      Same thing as our banking system. Simply put “how dare the bankers loan out my savings so someone can buy a house”. Oh, and the trust funds do earn interest, millions of dollars each year.


      Come back after you have sorted facts form fiction.

  7. Marge

    WHY ARE OUR FICA & SECA withdrawals or payments paying your salaries working for the Social Security Administration? Your salaries should be paid out of another Government allocated agency’s budget!!

    • Marc

      The salaries of Social Security employees are NOT paid out of the fund. ALL federal employees are paid out of the General Fund, i.e., the BUDGET. That is what income taxes, NOT FICA are used for, along with all other government expenses. That’s why it’s so wrong for corporations to dodge paying income tax, and to hand out huge tax cuts to the rich who make billions, use all our public resources, but contribute nothing. That’s the real reason they’re always short of money and need to make “cuts” – but only to the programs that benefit the COMMON GOOD, meaning US, like Social Security, Medicare, schools, national parks, and vital services like the FDA who makes sure Big Pharma doesn’t kill you; the USDA, to make sure the food you eat isn’t contaminated with listeria, eColi, or salmonella or even bits of glass, metal, or rather feces; the EPA to make sure factories don’t dump deadly toxic waste into our drinking water and streams or spew deadly gases and lung-destroying particulate after into the air, the NIH (National Institute of Health) who are the REAL ones who do the research and development of new drugs and Social treatments (NOT Bigh Pharma); the CDC who makes sure we don’t all die of horrible epidemics, etc, etc, etc. For ypur information, Security is the MOST EFFICIENT government agency in our history, using only ONE PERCENT of what it takes in for administration, and that is NOT salaries of Social Security personnel. You know, people have the right to protest and gripe when something isn’t right, but it is WRONG, unfair, and frankly, stupid to criticize the government for doing or not doing things when you have ZERO knowledge of what it is you’re criticizing and what you’re saying isn’t even close to being correct. Almost every one of these comments is complaining or slamming something that doesn’t exist, doesn’t happen, is not the truth – and the WORST part is that there’s NO EXCUSE for any American to be so ignorant of our own government. Every one of you has access to a computer, obviously, and clearly plenty of time to use it so why don’t you make the effort to actually READ about these things??? I’d bet every check I will ever receive for the rest of my life that not one of you has a clue about the infinite amount of valuable, helpful, up-to-date, and FACTUAL information that’s also FREE on any topic you could imagine on the government website (s). No, you’d rather live in your dark, negative, closed little minds, only knowing what you’re told by opinionated, ever more dishonest and biased media for the false information you get to validate all your hatred and fears and prejudices and myths. Have fun, people. I have no further interest in trying to answer false claims with truth and helpful information – which is what Social Security is trying to do for you on this very blog. No more comments. I want to spend what little time is left to us of freedom to enjoy these things before the corporatocracy that uninformed voters put into power takes them all away and shuts them down: libraries, national and state parks, all the interesting and useful consumer information available on their websites, the Postal Service, transit, college and high school plays and sports events, recreation centers, etc, etc, etc. Enjoy your dark, narrow little lives. At least there’s some little satisfaction in knowing that those of you who voted for these thieves, liars, and con artists to bring this scourge on the rest of us are their first target. Karma.

  8. Don

    It is time our government learns it is there because of the people for the people and to serve the people. It is our elected official’s job to fund what is necessary whether they agree with it our not. There is no reason to play political games with what we all work and pay taxes for and it is time for them to do that. Maybe they should be shorthanded to understand what we all go thru day to day. Maybe then you wouldn’t have so many issues. If you are shorthanded how do you have time to weed out the fraud which uses our money and shorts the system? Maybe they can do something worthwhile by passing a law saying the funds paid into for special purposes etc. SS can not be used for anything but that and can not be borrowed for any reason!

    • misery c.

      From your finger tips to TPTB’s ears ?


      Maybe it’s time for you to READ before you type so that you sound less ignorant.

  9. David Y.

    Yes please do all you can for us thank ypu

  10. marvin k.

    As an engineer I invented many products for my employers. 40 years later a few are still in production earning millions of dollars in profits for them and taxable income for their current factory workers making and selling them. Yet I get nothing towards a niggardly SS benefit. Where’s the justice?

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