Statement from Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, about Agency Accomplishments

December 18, 2023 • By

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Last Updated: December 18, 2023

A photo of Kilolo KajakaziAs we approach the end of 2023, I am reflecting on all that the Social Security Administration has accomplished, despite considerable challenges. It’s been my great privilege to lead Social Security’s approximately 60,000 employees for the past two and one-half years, and I’m so proud of the work they’ve done to fulfill our mission.

For more than 85 years, Social Security has provided income protection for retirees, adults and children with disabilities, and families who lose a wage earner. In order to pay benefits, we also issue millions of Social Security Numbers (SSN), maintain the country’s wage records, and more. The scope of what we do is enormous, and we are proud to serve the public every day. Despite our recent history of chronic underfunding, Social Security remains among the most trusted agencies in the Federal Government.

Social Security’s top priority is, and always will be, working to provide high-quality, timely customer service.  Social Security employees deliver approximately $1.4 trillion in benefits to more than 70 million people each year. Each week, our employees serve over 500,000 people in over 1,000 offices across the country.

Despite insufficient budgets, we have prioritized business, policy and technology improvements to serve you better. For visitors to our local field offices, we expanded mobile check-in and instituted an online scheduling system for people who need an appointment for a Social Security card. We also updated our check-in kiosks to make them more accessible and improve the overall check-in process.

Our redesigned website, launched in December 2022, is easier to navigate, more task-oriented, and offers more self-service options and increased digital services, making it easier for people to apply for benefits and replacement SSN cards. Customers can start—and often complete—their SSN card requests and applications for certain benefits online, and our new Office of Transformation recently introduced an online tool that will allow customers to electronically sign and upload certain documents. These improvements allow millions of people to complete their business online quickly and securely, saving time for our customers and freeing up more time for our employees to help customers with more complex needs in-person and process more cases.

Despite these efforts, the combined effect of the pandemic and chronic underfunding have taken a toll on our employees. It has led to high attrition and backlogs. Our budget directly drives the level of service we can provide. Bottom line, we need enough well-trained employees to ensure we can meet your needs. New hires are necessary to begin to reduce growing backlogs and improve service. I am pleased that the funding we received in fiscal year (FY) 2023 allowed us to hire nearly 8,000 employees in the past year, but we must be able to maintain this staffing level. Using targeted strategies, we have also reduced the backlog of hearings to a 21-year low and began to address the backlog of initial disability claims. With sustained and sufficient funding consistent with the President’s FY 2024 budget request, I’m confident that we can build on our progress and retain the best qualified workforce.

We continue working to improve equity and access for all customers through partnerships and policy initiatives. Our newly established Office of Native American Partnerships is piloting mobile services by sending SSA employees to health facilities in remote locations and improving video service delivery in Tribal communities. We’ve also worked with the Biden-Harris Administration and other agencies to promote Economic Impact Payments, the Affordable Connectivity Program, and Child Tax Credits, so our customers could learn about and benefit from these programs without affecting their Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments.

To make it easier for people seeking benefits from Social Security to obtain legal representation, we increased our representative fees for the first time in 13 years and conducted outreach to the unrepresented to help them prepare for hearings. We are simplifying our disability redetermination and overpayment notices so they’re shorter, easier to understand, and less burdensome for our customers. We also made significant progress toward simplifying our rules around in-kind support and maintenance and past relevant work, in order to reduce burdens on both applicants and employees. We developed Social Security’s first comprehensive Limited English Proficiency policy to help customers with little or no understanding of English access our information and services. Further, we regularly meet with advocates, experts, and other external stakeholders to listen and gather feedback on our efforts to continuously improve.

Social Security remains a trusted program and agency, one that the public increasingly relies on. We’ve added at least 8 million more beneficiaries in the past 10 years alone. It’s imperative that we can sustain and support our workforce, improve our customers’ experience, communicate clearly with the public, and hone our policies and procedures to provide the service the public expects and deserves. With sufficient and sustained financial support from Congress, Social Security can continue to build on our accomplishments in 2024 and many years to come.

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  1. Nancy

    I have to comment on the “ timely manner” in providing customer support. Today, I sat for over 3 hours to make sure Social Security received my 2023 pay stubs and to update my physical mailing address. I am 63 and ever since I have been on Disability, I have always worked part time. In the past, I had just dropped the pay stubs in the drop box but I didn’t get any reply the last time I did that so I wanted to make sure it was received by being date stamped. While I sat there with 25 people in front of me, there was only 1 window open and each person took a long time. It was very stressful and the chairs in this office were highly uncomfortable- metal with tiny holes in them. It was sad seeing people older than myself with walkers and mobility issues struggle to sit. When my number was finally called, the representative I dealt with was rather condescending. He was a younger man who had little patience. I explained to him I needed to provide my pay stubs for 2023 and he said I didn’t have to hand them in- that just to hang on to them for my next work review. I told him that I didn’t understand that because I had always been told that I should provide my pay stubs. He then went on to say that it was my responsibility to make sure I didn’t go over the Monthly earned income allowed for 2023 which was $1470 per month and this year it is $1550. I said that I knew that but again, I had always “ thought” I was required to provide my pay stubs, advise SSA when work changed such as hours etc.. The representative then told me that they don’t have time for that anymore and if I go over the income limits “ You are done” meaning my social security would end. Well, I had to change my address anyway, but still, the main reason I spent over 3 hours there was to provide my work information which I guess isn’t needed until the work reviews now. But I didn’t know that. I was also shocked how this representative acted. He just wasn’t helpful or at least pretended to be nice. You know, there isn’t any help or counselors any more to help with this kind of thing . I use to be able to call Disability Rights Oregon for questions and I even had a counselor there I worked with. But they don’t even answer their phone anymore.

    • Sue

      We’re sorry to hear about your experience, Nancy. If you work and receive disability benefits, you must tell us right away if you have previously reported your work to us but your duties, hours, or pay changes. Rather than visiting an office, you can report your wages online using your personal my Social Security account. If you prefer, you can report changes in your work and provide pay stubs to your local Social Security office. During your next visit, you may ask to speak to a supervisor. You can also submit feedback by visiting our How can we help? webpage. From there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email Our Support Team” form where you can submit a compliment, complaint, or suggestion. We hope this helps.

  2. Marcusa

    Since 2017, I have been asking SSA officials why they do not use the international agreement between the USA and my first job, especially Article 7.2 of this agreement, to calculate my pension, and to this day they have answered many questions that I did not ask them about. They have been doing everything they can over the past few years not to see or hear this question. You have to have a really great talent to maneuver like that. I hope that the new Commissioner will notice my question.

  3. Ernanie F.

    I believe that a large number of people receiving sss benefits have died. The living beneficiaries are atll receiving benefits but in a smaller amount and will also be gone in a few years. What percentage of people are receiving new sss benefits compared to those who lost it already yearly?

    • Marcusa

      60,000 team with gfederal benefits, no SSA benefits(?), cost big part od SS tax collection.

  4. Tony

    It seem a lot of people were living large on these overpayments and causing inflation to go wild.

    Can the SSA give me a loan and pay me a couple of overpayments? These overpayments are interest free, so I don’t mind paying it back later.

  5. Holly

    Lol. The amount for the income limit is too low… Needs to be a lot higher… That or social Security checks need to be a livable wage. Can anyone live off of $700, $900, even a thousand dollars. Also, there has to be a way Social Security let’s you know you’re earning too much and stop payments before you owe social security money.

    • Robert G.

      It is my understanding that Social Security, when first implemented, was supposed to equate to 40% of one’s annual retirement income. It was never intended to be a 100% income guarantor. Retirees have a responsibility to provide 60% of their annual retirement income. That’s why retirement planning is essential.

      • Robert. R.

        Very. Essential. Trumper , Since. SS. Gov took all my paid in. SS. Retirement. Since Donnie. Hitler took OFFICE ! Maybe you can show me those $38,000. Pay check that you n Hitler put in. Your. MAGA. Pocket !

    • Marcusa

      What is the expected increase in the cost of living in 2024? According to the SSA it will be 3.2%, according to insurance it will be about min. 50%, food price in stores about 20%, electrical energy 15% to 20%, property taxes are much higher than 3.2%, mail stamps from 21.2%. What is the increase in the SSA service budget (salary, office rent, electricity, contractors service etc.)?
      It is a good time to reserve the room for SSAs seniors under a bridge.

      • Robert. R.

        Trumper. WANTS. What ! Yep I voted. Donnie. Hitler , too ‘🤪

  6. Alexandra O.

    Would be a good idea to incorporate an AI question/answer bot to the SS website to help alleviate phone traffic.

    • Crystal B.

      Would be nice to know who I can tell my story! I was a disabled lady hurth my back . I was working back in 2010. I was a school bus driver 4/ hrs a day worked. SSA I went in periodically make sure I don’t go over my limit. Every time they told me I ok! They told me I can make $1100/ mo. When I turned 66 years old before 5 months they cut my income to zero!!! I had to go to the Governor Mayer to help me! I’m 70 years old I just come widowed in August SSA took my widow benefits 3 months $ 2670 for “ they sad the owed money!” With out any letters !!! I’m still working paying tax egy month what does not going in to my retirement! Why that money does not going to the money they say I owe??? I’m 70 years old still have to work to survive!!!

    • Patricia F.

      How. about an increase to the checks of the elderly seniors. Those of is that are over 70
      and are too old to work. Our checks are just not making it. It’s sad when you have to choose between medication or food because you can’t afford both. I think that it’s a disgrace the way that the elderly are being
      treated in this country.

    • Sanjio I.

      NO because these things never provide adequate service and are sometimes very confusing

  7. About C.

    “We’ve added at least 8 million more beneficiaries in the past 10 years alone.” – Is this 8 million from all categories? ( ie, ssa, ssi etc) Thank you all for your efforts and I do enjoy (after 37 years of working) my/our check from SSA each month. I am now doing the work with my body,mind,emotions and energy to live to the age of health of 110 Years. Hip Hip Hooray!

  8. L


    Think about it. What happened in the last 10 years? Almost all the Baby Boomers retired. I’m sure the number of people that passed away were much less than that.

  9. Nordoc

    Daily I find loose ends and must deal with them for businesses I patronize, to a point where I often wonder why I must correct, follow up or clarify what should be occurring in my transactions with them. But I have had nothing but help, resolute, and earnest dealings with SSA staff and systems so far. Thank the department and employees who work so hard to get things right for me. And I wish Happy holidays to you all!

  10. Randy

    Interesting ….

    Gained 8 million people in the last decade….

    How many were lost?


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