Declining budgets and administrative capacities need to be understood in the context of two big trends. First, SSA’s workload is growing dramatically. In 2002, the SSA served fifty-one million OASI beneficiaries. That increased to sixty-two million by 2015 and is anticipated to jump even higher—to seventy-seven million in 2020 and eighty-five million in 2025.84 The second trend is that the SSA work force, like the clients they serve, are aging, the majority of supervisors eligible for retirement. In contrast to the early SSA investment in training, budget cuts have prevented leadership development programs that could offer a pipeline for future management personnel or succession planning. The SSA has been under a hiring freeze since 2010.85 Given that it takes nearly two years to fully train new staff in the broad array of responsibilities ranging from eligibility determinations to claims reviews, long-term hiring freezes place the agency in a challenging position.
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