|Program Title||Supplemental Security Income|
|Department Name||Social Security Administration|
|Agency/Bureau Name||Social Security Administration|
Direct Federal Program
|Assessment Rating||Moderately Effective|
|Assessment Section Scores||
|Program Funding Level
|Year Began||Improvement Plan||Status||Comments|
Simplifying the process for determining if an individual is disabled to improve the accuracy and speed of decisions.
|Action taken, but not completed||SSA implemented the Quick Disability Determination process nationally. SSA is refining and updating outdated medical listings. SSA will complete updating medical listings by the end of 2009.|
Connecting beneficiaries with expanding employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
|Action taken, but not completed||The Ticket began in 2002 and, as of May 2008, 205,000 SSI and/or OASDI beneficiaries were using their Tickets. New regulations were effective in July 2008, they increase EN payments for successful work and improve the requirements for measuring progress toward self-supporting employment. SSA has extended the Ticket to Work evaluation contracts until 2010.|
Addressing payment accuracy issues by developing proposals to simplify the program's eligibility rules.
|Action taken, but not completed||SSA is implementing an automated wage reporting project designed to simplify the wage reporting process and improve SSI payment accuracy. SSA continues to implement enhancements designed to improve the process so that it can support more callers, and eventually provide fully automated SSI wage reporting. SSA expects to have a fully automated national SSI wage reporting system by July 2009.|
|Year Began||Improvement Plan||Status||Comments|
Measure: Minimize average processing time in days for initial disability claims to provide timely decisions
Explanation:Processing time is measured from application date (or protective filing date) to either the denial notice date or the date the system completes award processing. Through 2007, processing time included all initial disability claims. Beginning 2008, processing time includes only initial disability claims that receive a medical decision and excludes claims that do not need a medical decision because basic eligibiy requirements are not met. The targets beginning 2008 reflect improved medical decision processing time.
Measure: Achieve the budgeted goal for average processing time in days for hearings.
Explanation:Represents the elapsed time from the hearing request date until the end of disposition of all cases at the hearings level (disability and non-disability) processed during all months of the fiscal year. We measure remands from the remand order date. As of the beginning of FY 2007, we determined there were approximately 63,770 cases pending that would be in the aged category of more than 1,000 days old by the end of the fiscal year. We decided the Agency could best serve the public by focusing on these cases. Processing time is measured by the average length of time it takes to process cases from the request-for-hearing date to disposition during the fiscal year. We recognized the processing time for these aged cases would inflate the overall average processing time for the fiscal year and the goal was modified to compensate for this. We processed all but 108 of the 63,770 cases. This represents a 99.8 percent reduction of this critical workload. Consequently, although processing time for FY 2007 increased over that for FY 2006, SSA met its FY 2007 goal. Although the long-term goal reflects a substantial decrease over the FY 2009 target, we are hiring 189 ALJs in FY 2008 and they will become fully productive by the end of FY 2009. In addition, we have begun a number of initiatives that will reduce average processing time for hearings in FY 2009 and beyond.
Measure: Achieve target percentage of hearing level cases pending over 365 days.
Explanation:Measured from the date of request for hearing, this represents the number of cases that have been pending for more than 365 days as a percentage of the total number of cases pending at the hearing level. Included in the pending caseload are remands as well as post-entitlement actions. Remands are measured from remand order date. A remand is an order by either the Appeals Council or a Federal court returning a claim to a previous level decision maker for further action. Cases may be remanded for various reasons, including: new evidence submitted with an appeal, a change in regulations, an error of law by the previous decision maker, or an abuse of discretion.
Measure: Disability Determination Services (DDS) net accuracy rate for combined initial disability allowances and denials.
Explanation:Net accuracy is the percentage of correct initial state disability determinations. Net accuracy is based upon the net error rate, which is defined as the number of corrected deficient cases with changed disability decisions, plus the number of deficient cases that are not corrected within 90 days from the end of the period covered by the report, divided by the number of cases reviewed. Improving net accuracy improves outcomes by increasing correct allowances and/or correct denials. Note: Prior to FY 2003, we reported allowance and denial accuracy rates separately. Starting in FY 2003, we have moved to a combined accuracy rate.
Measure: Percent of individuals who do business with SSA rating the overall service as "excellent," "very good," or "good."
Explanation:Satisfaction ratings are derived from the Office of Quality Performance's annual surveys of 800 number callers and visitors, and hearings office visitors. Percent of respondents surveyed by our Office of Quality Performance who rate overall service as "good," "very good," or "excellent" on a 6-point scale ranging from "excellent," to "very poor" divided by the total number of respondents to that question. This measure directly supports our strategic goals relating to service. We continue to make technological advancements, both in external services made available to the public through the Internet and on the telephone, and in internal applications used by employees, which help fulfill the program's purpose. The satisfaction ratings are a proxy for how well we fulfill the program's purpose.
Measure: Percent of SSI aged claims processed by the time the first payment is due or within 14 days of the effective filing date.
Explanation:This rate reflects the number of SSI Aged applications completed through the SSA operational system (i.e., award or denial notices are triggered) before the first regular continuing payment is due or not more than 14 days from the effective filing date, if later, divided by the total number of SSI Aged applications processed.
Measure: Percent of SSI payments free of overpayment (OP) errors
Explanation:This measure calculates the percentage of SSI payments free from overpayment errors. This payment accuracy is determined by an annual review of a statistically valid sample of the SSI recipient rolls. The overpayment error rate is computed by dividing the overpayment error dollars by the total dollars paid for the fiscal year. The overpayment accuracy rate is calculated as 100% minus this overpayment error rate. A separate performance measure calculates the underpayment accuracy rate. The current measuring system captures the accuracy rate of the non-medical aspects of eligibility for SSI payment outlays. Note: Actual data for FY 2006 will be reported in the FY 2007 PAR.
Measure: Percent of SSI payments free of underpayment (UP) errors
Explanation:This underpayment accuracy rate is determined by an annual review of a statistically valid sample of the SSI recipient rolls. The underpayment errors detected from the review are expressed as a percentage of total outlays paid for the fiscal year to obtain the underpayment rate. The underpayment accuracy rate is calculated as 100% minus this underpayment error rate. A separate performance measure calculates the percentage of payments that are free from overpayment errors. The current measuring system captures the accuracy rate of the non-medical aspects of eligibility for SSI payment outlays. Note: Actual data for FY 2006 will be reported in the FY 2007 PAR.
Measure: Achieve the budgeted goal for SSA hearings case production per workyear.
Explanation:This indicator represents the average number of SSA hearings case production per workyear expended. If we are able to process more cases per workyear, we do more work with the same input, which improves efficiency. A direct workyear represents actual time spent processing cases. Note: Targets for FYs 2003 and beyond include only SSA hearings.
Measure: Number of DI beneficiaries and SSI recipients with tickets assigned, who work
Explanation:Count of the number of SSDI beneficiaries, SSI recipients and concurrent beneficiaries who have used their Tickets to sign up with an Employment Network or State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and who have recorded earnings in the Disability Control File in any month of the calendar year. The Ticket to Work program is a voluntary program that offers Social Security DI and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities a variety of choices in obtaining the support and services they need to help them go to work and achieve their employment goals. Eligible beneficiaries are issued a document called a "Ticket" by SSA that they can use to obtain employment services from a participating provider of their choice (an Employment Network or a State VR agency). The provider will be paid by SSA as the beneficiary attains certain employment milestones or outcomes. SSA will not conduct a continuing disability medical review of a person receiving disability benefits if that person is using their Ticket. This provides beneficiaries with an incentive to attempt to return to work.
Notes: This data is provided on a calendar year basis and reported in June of the following year. The baseline for CY 2003 and the estimated target for CY 2004 that were reported in the FY 2004 PAR have been updated to include additional recipients, with tickets, who work. Note: Actual FY 2006 data will be reported in the FY 2007 PAR.
|Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design|
Is the program purpose clear?
Explanation: The purpose of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is to provide basic support to the needy aged (65 or older), blind and disabled (at any age) based on nationally uniform eligibility standards and payment levels. SSI is a nationwide Federal assistance program administered by SSA that provides monthly benefits to individuals who have limited income and resources. Regulations state that several principles underlie the SSI program, including that:
1. A person's eligibility for SSI is based on nationally uniform standards that are objective, measurable, and clearly defined in the law.
2. Payments are made under conditions as protective of personal dignity as possible. There are no restrictions on how recipients may spend SSI payments.
3. SSI recipients are encouraged to work if they can.
Evidence: The program purpose is clearly defined in sections 1601 and 1602 of the Social Security Act and in regulations at 20 CFR 416.110. See also: U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Ways and Means, Social Security Amendments of 1971: Report to Accompany H.R. 1, 92nd Congress, House Report, 92-231, pp 149-150.
Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?
Explanation: Sections 1601 and 1602 of the Social Security Act set forth the purpose of the SSI program: to establish a national program to provide supplemental security income to individuals who have attained age 65 or are blind or disabled, who are determined to be eligible on the basis of their income and resources. Section 1902 of the Social Security Act also extends Medicaid eligibility to SSI recipients in most states.
In 2005, the Census Bureau reported that in 2005, 37 million Americans lived in poverty. SSI, often referred to as the program providing "assistance of the last resort", is designed to help aged, blind and disabled individuals in need. As of December 2006, there were 1,211,656 aged and 6,023,909 blind and disabled SSI recipients.
Recent data clearly demonstrate that SSI, as a means-tested program, provides additional assistance to people who have very little. SSI takes into account all income and resources that an individual has or can access. The amount of an individual's countable income and resources are the measure of his/her need for assistance:
?? 47.4 percent of adult SSI recipients had no other income as of December 2006; and
?? 41.9 percent of all SSI recipients age 18 or older lived in families with income below the poverty threshold in 2005.
The program was designed to provide opportunities for work and rehabilitation to enable individuals to become more independent. It was designed to provide such assistance in an efficient and economical manner.
Evidence: 2006 SSI Annual Report, SSI Federally Administered Payments 2006 (Table 2). The percentage of SSI recipients with no other income excludes recipients in a Medicaid facility. See Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristics Extract Record Format), 100 percent, December 2006. The data source for the percentage of adult SSI recipients below the poverty threshold is the Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2005. See also Census Bureau, "Poverty: 2005 Highlights," http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html.
Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?
Explanation: SSI does not duplicate benefits from other programs. SSI is the only Federal program that provides cash assistance for basic needs (food, clothing and shelter) to aged, blind and disabled individuals who have limited income and resources. Through cash benefits, SSI fills the gap between other income sources that include Federal, State or local programs, earnings, in-kind support and maintenance, etc. and the established Federal - and in certain cases State Supplemental - benefit payment levels. For example, if the CY 2007 maximum benefit level for an individual is $623 per month, SSI will pay $523 per month to an SSI recipient who has $100 in other countable income. Safeguards have been put in place to ensure that duplicate payments are not issued. Computer matching agreements with various agencies (e.g., Department of Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, and Office of Personnel Management) are examples of these safeguards. As a needs-based program, it is mandatory that individuals explore entitlements to other benefits.
Evidence: Section 1611 (e)1(G) of the Social Security Act requires applicants to file for other benefits to which they may be entitled as a condition of eligibility for SSI. "SSI Federal Payment Amounts," http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/SSIamts.html
Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?
Explanation: The SSI program is not free of major design flaws: (1) The disability determination process does not ensure that the right people get benefits on a timely basis, (2) the rules related to income and resources make it difficult to pay people the correct amount, (3) many of the medical listings that are used as part of the disability determination process do not recognize advances in medicine that would enable individuals to work, and (4) the vocational information used as part of the disability determination process is out-of-date. Since, 2004, however, SSA has made notable efforts to address these challenges. SSA is working to ameliorate these challenges. SSA has implemented a new electronic case processing (eDib) method that has improved the disability process. By September 2006, 84% of all Disability Determination Services (DDS) initial claims were processed electronically. In January 2007, all DDSs had implemented eDib.
SSA is working to improve its challenges with improper payments by initiating processes that (1) allow individuals to report monthly wages via telephone; (2) increase timely automated data matches with financial institutions; (3) explore data matching with the Office of Child Support Enforcement; and (4) resolve overpayments owed by individuals not entitled to SSA's benefits, etc. Through its SSI Corrective Action Plan, SSA is exploring ways to simplify in-kind support and maintenance, the most complicated of SSI policies. Simplification must be achieved without doing harm to significant numbers of recipients, incurring significant additional program costs, or losing program flexibility permitting quick responses to the changing situations of vulnerable individuals.
SSA has convened an Expert Study Panel charged with determining how best to provide vocational information for determining whether a person is disabled, and is still in the process of updating this information. Revised Ticket to Work regulations encourage better partnerships between State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and employment networks in providing ongoing supports to recipients with work goals, however, these regulations are still pending.
The GAO recommends in their 2006 report that SSA "clarify guidance regarding the degree of medical improvement required to meet the standard, the use of exceptions and the presumption of disability for assessing medical improvement when conducting CDRs." Additionally, the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB) has raised the question of whether SSA's definition of disability is aligned with national disability policy as reflected, for example, in the Americans with Disability Act.
Evidence: FY 2006 SSI Performance and Accountability Report, pp. 26-33; FY 2007/Revised 2008 Annual Performance Plan, page 20; Improper Payments Act of 2002 Detailed Report, in FY 2006 PAR, pages 209-212. FY 2006 SSI Annual Report http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/SSIR/SSI06/index.html.
OMB, "Improving the Accuracy and Integrity of Federal Payments" 2/1/07, "A New Approach to Disability Determination" (Internet). Also see "Simplifying the Supplemental Security Income Program: Challenges and Opportunities, Appendix A (SSA Pub. No. 13-005, December 2000)."
Social Security Act, Title XVI (Supplemental Security Income).For specific work incentive statutory references from the Social Security Act, see: 1148(Ticket to Work); 1633(d)(PASS); 223(i)(Expedited Reinstatement(EXR); 1619(a) (b)(Medicaid while working); 223(d) (4)(Substantial Gainful Activity, SGA); 222(c)(Trial Work Period, TWP); 221(m)(CDR work activity protections); 1110 (SSA's research and demonstration authority). For more information about the SSI and Medicaid provisions of section 1619 of the Social Security Act, see the 2004 Green Book, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, 3-48. For additional information about SSA's disability initiatives and research demonstrations, see Social Security Online, Program Development and Research, at http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/.
Other laws and regulations: Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-170). Pending revised Ticket to Work regulations, 20 CFR Part 411; P. L. 108-203 (H.R. 743). Social Security Protection Act of 2004, P.L. 108-203 (WIPA and P&A)
"The Social Security Definition of Disability," Social Security Advisory Board (Internet).
"Clearer Guidance could Help SSA Apply Medical Improvement Standard More Consistently," (GAO-07-8, October 2006); Report to the Chairman, Committee on Finance, US Senate: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d078.pdf .
Is the program design effectively targeted so that resources will address the program's purpose directly and will reach intended beneficiaries?
Explanation: The program does not always effectively reach its intended beneficiaries. In FY 2005, roughly $2.5 billion of all SSI payments were improper, and an additional $0.5 billion was owed to beneficiaries. There are inconsistencies in decisions about whether someone is disabled across states and between Disability Determination Services (DDS) and Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. A Lewin Group Study has shown that within individual DDSs, examiners come to different decisions on the same types of cases. GAO has pointed out in a recent report that SSA has not done enough to understand the sources of inconsistency in the decision making process. Still, SSA is working to reduce inconsistency. SSA has developed both short-term and long-term strategies.
The complex SSI rules are designed so that each recipient is paid exactly the right amount, creating complexities and inconsistencies when a beneficiary's income, resources and living arrangement status changes from one month to the next. Through investments and initiatives, SSA continually maintains and upgrades a wide variety of process, procedural, and systems controls designed to avoid overpayments and underpayments. The Agency's ongoing stewardship investments include SSI redeterminations - periodic non-medical reviews of SSI eligibility - designed to prevent and detect improper payments. These reviews ensure that SSA disburses the right payment to beneficiaries, ultimately avoiding unintended subsidies.
Extensive outreach efforts identify persons eligible for SSI, thereby attempting to reach intended recipients. SSA successfully refers individuals to other Federal agencies, State and local social service agencies, and hospitals. Through the Homeless Outreach Project and Evaluation (HOPE), skilled medical and social service providers identify and assist homeless individuals with disabling conditions to file for SSI. SSA also provides support for SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance provided to States participating in the Federal Interagency Policy Academies on Homelessness. The goal is to help States and communities increase access to SSI and SSDI for homeless people with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. Twenty-five States participate in SOAR. Social Security applicants with low benefits are advised to file for SSI.
SSA continues to innovate to improve quality and consistency at the hearings level. As one example of an initiative to improve the hearings adjudication process, SSA has implemented the new template system (FIT) for preparing decisions that better identify those who meet the strict definition of disability. The successful roll-out of eDib has facilitated and improved the development of medical and vocational evidence.
SSA is conducting other disability initiatives and rigorously-evaluated research demonstrations designed to identify ways to reduce dependency on SSI and other public benefits by helping enable people with disabilities to achieve better educational and employment outcomes. And, through work incentives, including the Ticket to Work Program, the Agency helps individuals willing and capable of vocational rehabilitation and employment to work and leave the SSI rolls, freeing up resources to reach those most in need.
Evidence: "More Effort Needed to Assess Consistency of Disability Decisions," GAO, July 2004, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04656.pdf .
The Lewin Group, "Evaluation of SSA's Disability Quality Assurance Processes and Development of QA Options That Will Support the Long-Term Management of the Disability Program," March 2001.
See also SSA FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, FY 2008 Budget, FY 2008/Revised FY 2007 Annual Performance Plan; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Supplemental Security Income: Supporting People With Disabilities And The Elderly Poor" (August 17, 2005); Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Selected Research Findings on Accomplishments of the Safety Net" (July 27, 2005). Performance Indicator Audit: Supplemental Security Income Payment Accuracy (A-15-06-16107, September 18, 2006). OMB, "Improving the Accuracy and Integrity of Federal Payments" 2/1/07,
For more information on the effectiveness of the SSI program at achieving its purpose, see Supplemental Security Income: Supporting People With Disabilities And The Elderly Poor (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Sweeney and Fremstad, revised 8/17/05). For information about the Comprehensive Work Opportunity Initiative, see Social Security Online - The Red Book, pp. 6-7. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/ For more information about SSA's research and demonstration projects, see Social Security Online, Program Development and Research, http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/
Also see the following work incentive statutory references from the Social Security Act: 1148(Ticket to Work); 1633(d)(PASS); 223(i)(Expedited Reinstatement(EXR)); 1619(a) (b)(Medicaid while working); 223(d) (4)(Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA); 222(c)(Trial Work Period (TWP); 221(m)(CDR work activity protections).
|Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design||Score||60%|
|Section 2 - Strategic Planning|
Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?
Explanation: The SSI program includes five long-term outcome performance measures that meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program and address the management of the program. The basic purpose of SSI is to assure a minimum level of income to people who are aged, blind, or disabled and who have limited income and resources. The long-term measures are designed to focus on timeliness, accuracy, and service. The five long-term outcome and performance measures are as follows:
?? Average processing time for initial disability claims
?? Average processing time for SSA hearings
?? The percentage of hearing level cases over 365 days
?? Disability Determination Services (DDS) net accuracy rate (Allowances and Denials combined)
?? Percent of individuals who do business with SSA rating overall service as "excellent,", "very good," or "good."
A sixth measure to capture average processing times for requests for reconsideration in disability claims is under development and will be included in future assessments. The five long-term outcome measures directly support the Agency's strategic goals relating to service and stewardship. SSA continues to make technological advancements, both in external services made available to the public through the Internet and on the telephone, and in internal applications used by employees. Providing SSI recipients with accurate benefits, and timely service is critical to fulfilling the program's purpose. For example, reducing processing times at all levels helps people in need by providing them income support sooner.
The Agency invests a great deal of effort to ensure the accuracy of decisions on initial disability claims. These efforts include providing training and regional office support to the State DDS, building better relationships with medical providers to ensure that medical evidence is received and complete, and ensuring claims files are randomly selected for consistency and quality reviews.
Over the years, this goal has proven to be very challenging. The rules and instructions for administering the disability adjudication process are very complex. In order to address the complexities of the disability adjudicative process, the DDSs invest significant time in training and mentoring programs and have expanded their in-line quality reviews of claims to include reviews of both Social Security and SSI claims. SSA believes that continued training and emphasis on accuracy will help position the Agency to meet this goal in the future.
In monitoring the percentage of aged hearing level cases (over 365 days), the Agency directly addresses the intent of the SSI program by ensuring that claimants receive a timely decision on a request for hearing. The Agency intends to pursue a number of initiatives to reduce the backlog of much older cases (over 750 and 1000 days). In the short-term, this will limit initial performance under the present measures. However, we anticipate that once the levels of these older cases are reduced, the level of cases pending over 365 days will decrease. Similarly, tracking the average time it takes to process a hearing helps the Agency ensure that claimants receive a timely decision on a request for hearing. Average processing time may also increase as the Agency works to reduce its backlogs, but we anticipate that this measure will also decrease in the next couple of years.
SSA also has several annual SSI measures related to the management of the program. These measures focus on improving economic security for the elderly and disabled.
SSA has the following long-term measures, which are tracked annually:
?? Percent of SSI payments free of overpayment errors
?? Percent of SSI payments free of underpayment errors
?? SSA hearings case production per workyear
?? Percent of SSI Aged claims processed by the time the first payment is due or within 14 days of the effective filing date
Evidence: Source for purpose of the program: Committee on Ways and Means report accompanying the original SSI legislation (H.R. 92-231). Source for payment accuracy: Agency Strategic Plan (ASP) for FYs 2006 - 2011, pp. 20 & 21. Source for other measures: Social Security's Performance Plans, FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP, p. 2, 7 & 13. FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, pp. 37-42.
Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?
Explanation: SSA has established three new long-term outcome measures for the SSI program. The Agency has established targets through 2010 or 2012 that are as ambitious and reasonable as possible to reduce backlogs and processing time. The long-term outcome measures reflect that SSI meets congressional intent to serve aged, blind, or disabled individuals who have limited income and resources by providing them monthly assistance in an accurate, timely manner. SSA has ambitious targets for its accuracy and is actively trying to increase work among recipients of SSI to reduce reliance on SSI benefits.
For its measures related to the management of the program, SSA has set realistic and challenging targets for initial claims and hearings processing times, as well as for hearings and the State Disability Determination Services (DDS) productivity. These measures are consistent with SSA's commitment to continue to achieve 2%, on average, annual productivity improvements. DDS net accuracy target was 97% for FY 2006 and the Agency actually achieved 96.2%. The long-term DDS net accuracy goal of 97% is ambitious when combined with greater productivity. The long-term target set for SSI overpayment accuracy of 96% is also very ambitious given past experience and legislative requirements. SSA has established an ambitious target of 83 percent for people who do business with the Agency who rate the overall service as excellent, very good, or good.
The Agency's long-term targets at the hearing level are very ambitious. Performance under both the percentage of hearing level cases over 365 days old and hearing level average processing time may be limited, initially. As the Agency pursues a number of initiatives to reduce the backlog of much older cases (over 750 and 1000 days), the levels for both measures may increase in the short-term as the older cases are processed. However, longer term performance will be improved for both measures, after the older cases are processed and a progressively "younger" mix of cases emerges.
Although SSA has not met the established goals pertaining to SSI overpayment and underpayment accuracy rates, the Agency continues to take action to improve its payment accuracy to reach its future goals. For example, SSA implemented the SSI Corrective Action Plan and conducted automated data matches with government agencies, banks and other financial institutions to detect wages and financial accounts. Additionally, SSA has established a variety of electronic online data exchanges with State and Federal agencies in order to save administrative time, program costs and to improve customer service. These exchanges permit workers to obtain real time data in order to process workloads. At the present time, SSA has over 100 electronic data exchanges within the 50 States. Collecting and compiling wage information and updating the SSI record are labor intensive and must be accomplished in a relatively short time period for the system to compute and pay the right amount. SSA has developed the SSI Monthly Wage Verification (SSIMWV) application that provides an efficient and accurate method of recording and posting monthly wages for SSI recipients and deemors. The SSIMWV allows the user to input pay stub reports, produce a receipt, update the Supplemental Security Record (SSR) via the Modernized SSI Claim System (MSSICS) or non-MSSICS processes and archive the receipt to the Online Notice Retrieval System (ONRS).
Evidence: Source for payment accuracy: Agency Strategic Plan (ASP) for FYs 2006 - 2011, pp. 20 & 21. Source for other measures: FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP, p. 2, 7 & 13. FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, pp. 37-42.
Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?
Explanation: SSA has a limited number of annual measures that address the outcomes and management of the program. SSA conducts redeterminations and continuing disability reviews (CDRs) to improve program payment accuracy. In addition, SSA has data matching agreements with State and Federal entities, which generate alerts that help the Agency detect both unreported income and work activity. Once overpayments are detected, the Agency has procedures in place to recover these funds. SSA has an annual outcome measure that relates to the number of SSI recipients who are working. To encourage work, the Ticket to Work Program provides expanded options to recipients with disabilities for accessing employment and vocational rehabilitation services. In addition, SSA has begun a demonstration project that assists youth receiving SSI benefits who want to transition from school to work. SSA also has a prerelease procedure for institutionalized persons that enable them to apply for SSI several months prior to their reentry into the community. Further, SSA's performance measures include processing time, productivity and decisional and payment accuracy. SSA has two other measures that support its long-term goals: 1) percent of outstanding SSI debt in a collection arrangement; and 2) percent of SSI payments free of overpayment error and underpayment error. SSA's Monthly Tracking Report provides the status of all SSA Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals, as well as other workload, budget and productivity measures. SSA executives meet monthly to discuss progress and necessary actions to meet performance goals. The Commissioner meets with the Deputy Commissioners on a regular basis to review actual progress towards meeting Agency performance commitments. Funding adjustments are made, when necessary, to maximize the Agency's ability to meet performance commitments. Also, SSA holds regular SSI improvement meetings with its executives to review and discuss progress being made on the SSI Corrective Action Plan and the monthly and year-to-date SSI Performance Indicator Report.
Evidence: SI 00520.900 Prerelease Procedure - Institutionalization, 2006 SSA Tracking Report. Social Security's Performance Plans, FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP, page 7. FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, pp 39, 91.
Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?
Explanation: SSA has baselines and ambitious annual performance targets that focus on numbers of recipients working, improvements to processing time, productivity, decisional accuracy, and payment accuracy. SSA's Monthly Tracking Report provides the status of all SSA Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals, as well as other workload, budget and productivity measures. SSA executives meet quarterly to discuss progress and necessary actions to meet performance goals. Also, the Commissioner meets with the Deputy Commissioners on a regular basis to review actual progress towards meeting Agency performance commitments.
Evidence: Source: PolicyNet (Intranet). 2006 SSA Monthly Tracking Report. Social Security's Performance Plans, FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP, page 7. FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report.
Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?
Explanation: SSA has numerous ongoing working relationships with States, Federal agencies and financial institutions, which help the Agency work toward annual and long-term SSI program goals. States support the program purpose by supplementing Federal benefits. DDS administrators commit to specific performance goals set by SSA. The Commissioner of SSA and other senior staff meet frequently with DDS representatives and the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB). SSA has collaborated with the Department of Labor (DoL) in the establishment of a nationwide network of employment support staff in One-Stop Career Centers to serve Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities. SSA also supports DoL in the Employer Assistance Referral Network (EARN). EARN is a premier cost-free employment service designed to assist employers nationwide with recruitment resources. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Nutrition Service are two additional Federal partners that support the goals of SSI by providing many recipients access to healthcare and nutrition in order for individuals to meet basic needs.
SSA's extensive computer matching programs ensure that benefit eligibility status and payment amounts are accurate. These automated matches are done on an ongoing basis and alert SSA to such events as nursing home admissions, changes in prisoner status, deportation, and recent employment of people paying child support. Other computer matching programs include:
?? The Department of Veterans Affairs match allows SSA to determine if an SSI recipient is also receiving a veteran's pension or compensation, since SSI payments are reduced for other income.
?? The National Directory New Hire (NDNH), which is a computer match agreement between SSA and the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). It has been expanded to allow authorized SSA personnel access to information on newly hired individuals and quarterly wage and unemployment information.
?? The Internet-Electronic Death Registration (I-EDR) is a web-based application designed to allow a State's Bureau of Vital Statistics to verify decedent Social Security numbers using the Internet. These jurisdictions provide SSA with notification of deceased persons, enabling SSA to timely administer programs for beneficiaries of decedents, and SSA can stop benefits timely.
?? The SSA Access to State Records Online (SASRO) provides SSA field office personnel with direct electronic access to State records, such as human services (Temporary Aid to Needy Families/Medicaid/Food Stamps), wage, unemployment, vital statistics [birth/death record], and workers compensation. This provides immediate savings by allowing personnel to remain at their work stations, eliminating time and expense for onsite visits, as well as costs for recording, photocopying, etc.
The Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit and identify Agency programmatic, operational, administrative, and systems issues. Their recommendations are addressed and tracked by the Agency to help improve management deficiencies. The OIG annually audits a number of Social Security's performance measures and corresponding performance data. In June 2005, GAO acknowledged in its Major Management Challenges at the Social Security Administration that SSA has:
?? Continued to strengthen the integrity of PolicyNet (Intranet) and SSA Online (Internet) programs;
?? Taken steps to improve its programs that provide support for individuals with disabilities;
?? Made important progress since FY 2003 in addressing weaknesses in policies, procedures, and practices in key information technology areas; and
?? Strengthened controls to protect personal information SSA develops and maintains.
Evidence: PolicyNet (Intranet). SSA Online (Internet). SSA Performance and Accountability Report pp 38-40. SSA's Strategic Plan 2006-2011. Social Security's Performance Plans, FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP. 2005 SSI Annual Report
Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?
Explanation: Independent quality evaluations are performed on a regular, ongoing schedule and on an as needed basis to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, support program improvements and create effective solutions to complex problems. The OIG, GAO, and the SSAB along with other private consulting firms continually audit the program and do so independently from SSA. The OIG and GAO audits are generally national in scope and use sound methodology, ensuring the quality of their findings. SSA executives meet regularly with the OIG to discuss issues that need to be addressed in the SSI program. The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Office of Quality Performance (OQP) conducts ongoing, statistically valid, outcome-based Stewardship reviews on the accuracy of SSI payments. That is, OQP measures the Agency's ability to provide SSI recipients the correct benefit payment to which they are entitled. Where payment amounts are incorrect, this formal review distinguishes between payments that are too high and those that are too low. OQP findings are used by the Agency to improve payment accuracy. Data from the reviews are used in corrective action planning and in monitoring performance as required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993.
The Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB) issues annual statements that analyze SSA's programs, including SSI, and makes recommendations to the President and Congress as appropriate. The SSAB is an independent, bipartisan board appointed by the President and Congress created to advise the President, Congress and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters related to the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a private consulting firm, provides an audit report each year on behalf of the Inspector General on the effectiveness of the SSI program's agency stewardship reviews. These findings are summarized in the Performance and Accountability Report each year. For the review, PwC conducted detailed testing of the SSI Stewardship processes for sample selection, profiling, stratification, database management, case weighting scheme, and calculation of payment accuracy rates. In calendar year 2005, PwC conducted a full review of SSI's Stewardship methodology and found that SSA's data are reliable.
Additional examples of ad hoc independent studies include:
?? OIG evaluations of the electronic disability (eDib) initiative
?? Audits by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. of the Ticket to Work program
?? Audits by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. of demonstration projects such as the Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD)
Evidence: SSA has consistently received an unqualified opinion on its financial statements. Outside monitoring entities (GAO, OIG, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers) regularly evaluate the program and make recommendations and Congress also exercises oversight. Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Social Security Administration (GAO-03-117). P.L. 108-203 (HR 743) Social Security Protection Act of 2004, FY 2006 PAR, Top Issues Facing Social Security Administration Management, Fiscal Year 2007 (OIG, November, 2006). For information about SSA's disability initiatives and research demonstrations, see Social Security Online, Program Development and Research, at http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/.
Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?
Explanation: In formulating and presenting its annual budget request, the Social Security Administration (SSA) assesses the impact of policy, procedural, legislative and automation changes on its workloads, including assessing the impact on productivity, pending levels, etc. SSA's budget plan articulates the resources required to keep up with core workloads; process special workloads; eliminate backlogs of disability claims, hearings and appeals, and other operational workloads; and improve productivity and fiscal stewardship. The Agency's budget clearly defines performance commitments, both in terms of the public service and program integrity workloads that the Agency will handle and the outcomes it expects to achieve. SSA's plans and budget activities reflect evaluation and feedback from Congress, the Social Security Advisory Board, the Government Accountability Office, and SSA's Office of the Inspector General.
SSA is able to assess workload effects of increases or decreases in funding. SSA has developed automated tools to assist the Agency in determining the full and marginal costs of achieving performance outcomes. Specifically, SSA is able to estimate the budgeted unit cost for key Supplemental Security Income workloads and reflect the marginal costs of changes in productivity.
Evidence: SSA Fiscal Year 2008 President's Budget. /omb/budget/fy2008/ssa.html, FY 2006 PAR
For the Budget and Performance Integration initiative, SSA achieved green status in the third quarter of fiscal year 2004. The Agency is maintaining these standards as it continues to improve its ability to integrate budget and performance outcomes. SSA also attained green status for the Improved Financial Performance initiative in the third quarter of fiscal year 2003, and has maintained that status since.
Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?
Explanation: SSA constantly assesses, evaluates and improves strategic plans and performance measures. In January 2006, the Agency Strategic Plan (ASP) for FY 2006-FY 2011 was published. The ASP serves as the cornerstone of Social Security's efforts to strengthen its overall management, accountability and stewardship of Agency programs and resources and to detail the means and strategies the Agency will use to correct strategic planning deficiencies. This Plan clearly articulates SSA's outcome-oriented strategic goals and objectives. SSA has a limited number of long-term performance goals and a limited number of annual performance targets that help guide the Agency toward achieving the long-term goals. During the development of the Annual Performance Plan (APP), SSA re-evaluates the effectiveness of the Agency's long-term outcomes and short-term (annual) targets/measures, and adjusts the long-term outcomes and annual performance targets, as appropriate.
The Agency developed an SSI Corrective Action Plan which focuses the Agency's efforts on correcting the deficiencies identified. The CAP strategic goals are: 1) overpayment prevention through electronic access of financial institution records to determine if an applicant owns unreported assets; 2) better overpayment detection through online data access; 3) increased emphasis on debt collection using a new debt collection measurement tool; and 4) better overpayment detection through online data access.
Evidence: SSI Corrective Action Plan, SSA Performance and Accountability Report, pp 38-40. Agency Strategic Plan 2006-2011. Social Security's Performance Plans, FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP.
|Section 2 - Strategic Planning||Score||100%|
|Section 3 - Program Management|
Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?
Explanation: Timely and credible performance information is collected through systematic and consistent processes with periodic quality controls to confirm the validity of the data. The Office of Quality Performance (OQP) focuses on the quality of the SSI program by conducting ongoing, statistically valid, outcome-based Stewardship reviews on the accuracy of SSI payments. These findings are used by the Agency to improve payment accuracy. SSA uses this information to manage the program and adjust program priorities. Computer matching agreements with external organizations are crucial in achieving SSA's payment accuracy performance measures. For example, SSA matches against the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Personnel Management, Bureau of Public Debt data, wage data maintained by the Office of Child Support Enforcement, nursing home admissions, prisoner matches, and fugitive felons information from law enforcement agencies. SSA reviews a sample of initial disability claims each quarter to determine their accuracy. SSA also has conducted a quality assurance review of payments issued to SSI recipients currently on the payment rolls in the fiscal year under review.
SSA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit and identify Agency programmatic, operational, administrative, and systems issues. Their recommendations are addressed and tracked by the Agency to help improve management deficiencies. The OIG annually audits a number of Social Security's performance measures and corresponding performance data. In June 2005, GAO acknowledged in its Major Management Challenges at the Social Security Administration that SSA has:
?? Continued to strengthen the integrity of the SSI program;
?? Taken steps to improve its programs that provide support for individuals with disabilities; and
?? Made important progress since FY 2003 in addressing weaknesses in policies, procedures, and practices in key information technology areas.
Detailed performance data permeates SSA at each and every level of adjudication and is used to manage programs and improve performance. SSA collects performance data related to accuracy, processing time and productivity. SSA executives meet regularly and use this detailed performance data to discuss progress and necessary actions to meet performance goals. The Commissioner meets with Deputy Commissioners on a regular basis to review actual progress towards meeting Agency performance commitments. Funding adjustments are made, when necessary, to maximize the Agency's ability to meet performance targets. Also, the Agency holds regular SSI improvement meetings with SSA executives. In addition, the Commissioner of SSA and other senior staff meet frequently with DDS representatives and the Social Security Advisory Board.
Evidence: SSA regularly collects payment accuracy, decisional accuracy, workload data and a myriad of management information from administrative records. The FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP, page 5 and appendix vii. FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) pp 11, 127. FY 2003 PAR pages 80 & 92. SSA Monthly Tracking Report. SSA conducts quality assurance (Stewardship) reviews of the accuracy of payments issued to SSI recipients on the rolls which includes reviewing and redeveloping all non-medical factors of eligibility. Data are analyzed, published and used for corrective action planning and monitoring. SSA's Office of Quality Performance is independent of SSA's operations and policy components.
Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?
Explanation: Annually, each Federal agency is required to report to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) how it will evaluate its Senior Executive Service (SES) employees. To meet this requirement, SSA uses the Mini Performance and Accountability Report (Mini PAR) as one of its internal tools to link Senior Executives' responsibilities and accountability with the Agency's mission, strategic goals, strategic objectives, performance measures, and achievement of actual performance targets. It also shows the close coordination between the various components to achieve results, as well as other activities supporting the Agency's mission and goals, e.g., executive participation in developing and presenting testimonies before Congress and participating in internal and external committees and workgroups. Further, the Commissioner meets regularly with Senior Executives to review progress and, based on Agency-wide performance data, takes appropriate action when necessary. Also, the Agency holds regular SSI improvement meetings with SSA executives to review and discuss the SSI Corrective Action Plan. Items typically discussed at these meetings include the Agency's progress in achieving performance targets regarding CDRs, redeterminations, debt in a collection arrangement and administrative sanctions.
SSA has instituted a performance appraisal system for its Senior Executives, which is linked to the Agency's mission, goal and outcomes. The alignment of employee performance with the Agency's mission and strategic goals is accomplished through a new, multi-level performance appraisal program for all managers. DDS administrators are held accountable for their performance also. When the DDS accuracy falls below the required range for two consecutive calendar quarters, appropriate performance support is provided. In addition, Interagency Agreements are carefully monitored to ensure that the agencies are held accountable for performance results; and SSA contracts and grants contain appropriate clauses which SSA uses to hold its contractors accountable, when appropriate, for schedule and performance results.
Evidence: FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report. SSA PAR, SSA Monthly Tracking Report. SES and GS-15 Performance Plans. Regular SSI Improvement Meetings. The Code of Federal Regulations for Social Security, sections 404.1645-404.1662.
Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner, spent for the intended purpose and accurately reported?
Explanation: Program funds are obligated consistent with the rules of the program. Procedures exist for reporting actual expenditures. The Agency has also received an unqualified opinion on its financial statements with no material weaknesses cited by the auditor. Financial systems are compliant with Federal law, demonstrating to the Office of Management and Budget that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses accurate and timely information to manage the Agency. According to the annual SSI Stewardship Report, in fiscal year 2005, 93.6 percent of all SSI payments were free of overpayment errors, while 98.6 percent of all SSI payments were free of underpayment errors.
Evidence: Report on Budget Execution (SF-133).
Fiscal Year 2006 Performance and Accountability Report,
http://www.ssa.gov/finance/2006/Financial_Section.pdf, pp. 105, 122, 177.
Budget and Performance Integration, President's Management Agenda Initiative - SSA achieved green status on all six standards for success in the third quarter of fiscal year 2004. SSA is maintaining these standards as it continues to improve its ability to integrate budget and performance outcomes.
Improved Financial Performance, President's Management Agenda initiative - The Agency achieved green in June of 2003 and is achieving the milestones established for improvement.
Fiscal Year 2005 Supplemental Security Income Payment Accuracy (Stewardship) Report (August 2006).
Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?
Explanation: SSA continually looks for means to achieve cost efficiencies both in program management and administration of the SSI program. OIG and GAO continually audit the SSI program to inform the Agency about items that may require corrective action. OIG plays a key role in auditing performance measure data systems to determine reliability and relevance to policy decision-making. The Agency uses the results of such reviews and assessments to take action to increase confidence in the reliability of the Agency's data as well as oversight of the program. For example, SSA developed a SSI Corrective Action Plan (CAP). The CAP consists of 12 initiatives to ensure that the SSI program remains effective and efficient, including pilots to improve monthly wage reporting and to detect financial institution accounts. In addition, internal computer alerts are issued when SSI recipients attain a critical age, indicating to field offices that necessary action is required.
The budget process builds these changes into the development of cost estimates as part of the Agency's analysis of productivity factors. An example of this is in the processing of SSI redeterminations. SSA first conducts redeterminations on individuals most likely to require an adjustment of award levels because of a change in resources and income. SSA reviews these recipients' income and resources to make sure they are still eligible for benefits and are getting paid the right amount. SSA also looks at methods to make the reviews more cost-efficient, such as by using mailers and electronic processing of redetermination forms. SSA conducts continuing disability reviews (CDRs) to make sure that recipients are still unable to work. Many computer matching activities also provide efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution.
As SSA expands use of electronic disability processing to the hearings workload, we expect to see increased efficiency. Since FY 2002, SSA has set ambitious targets for hearings case production per work year. SSA saw improvement from 97 to 103 from FY 1999 through FY 2003. The targeted production level for FY 2007 is 106. Although productivity declined to 100 in FY 2006, while SSA focused on transferring the Medicare hearings workload, we expect to see improvements in hearings case production.
Other Agency initiatives, such as the Managerial Cost Accounting System (MCAS) and Social Security Unified Measurement System (SUMS), are designed to improve SSA's ability to measure and control spending in order to utilize resources more efficiently. MCAS focuses on critical performance and financial information needed by managers and employees, and promotes performance accountability for Social Security programs. The project was expanded to include the Time Allocation System, which uses routine data captured from the Agency's automated workload transaction systems and support functions to measure the work time expended on work activities. This will provide accurate, timely and detailed information on the way that these workloads are handled and the resources they require. The Agency recognized the need to improve the quality, consistency and access to information used by managers and analysts throughout SSA to manage work and account for resources. The objective of SUMS is to count and measure all work in a consistent manner. SUMS provides information needed to help make business decisions and comply with government standards. Access to web-based reports, workload listings and other information are available online, eliminating the need for paper reports.
SSA has established a Deputy Commissioner-level Information Technology Advisory Board (ITAB) chaired by SSA's Chief Information Officer (CIO). The ITAB develops an annual Agency IT Systems Plan, and ensures that all IT project requests include a business case that addresses the proposal's relationship to Agency goals and performance objectives and includes a cost-benefit analysis.
Evidence: SSA's FY 2005 Budget Submission. FY 2003 Performance and Accountability Report pp. 20, 32, 119. SSI Corrective Action Plan (May 2002). FY 2003 SSI Redetermination Change Rate Study.
Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?
Explanation: In administering SSI, SSA extensively and effectively collaborates with other SSA-administered programs, the States, other Federal agencies, community service providers, and other entities. Despite the fact that no other programs provide comparable benefits to the same recipient SSI population, most States provide a related SSI state supplement payment. SSA administers payments for some States that choose it, and monitors all payments to ensure compliancy with the Act. SSA coordinates with certain States to make automatic Medicaid eligibility determinations, and works with States to provide Medicare buy-in coverage for eligible individuals. In addition, SSA coordinates with USDA on food stamp applications along with other related programs, such as State Vocational Rehabilitation, to serve many recipients.
SSA collaborates in research projects with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), State agencies, and local public and the private-sector. The agency works to improve the programs, policies, services and supports that (1) comprise the nation's safety net for low-income persons who are aged, blind, or disabled and (2) help enable these individuals to maximize their potential for self-sufficiency.
SSA's collaboration with other Federal agencies is varied. SSA:
?? works closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on certain citizenship and alien aspects of SSI eligibility. SSA and DHS are exploring a process to identify refugees and asylees close to the 7 year SSI payment limit so DHS can expedite the pending citizenship application;
?? coordinates with CMS on a wide range of Medicare issues;
??uses CMS data to identify continuing disability review mailer candidates;
??coordinates with State workers' compensation agencies, the Railroad Retirement Board and DOL to ensure that recipients are paid correctly;
??works with the Department of Veterans Affairs to secure medical evidence for veterans who have applied for disability benefits; and
??participates in the Department of Justice's Serious and Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative.
An example of SSA's commitment to collaboration occurred during and after the Hurricane Katrina and Rita disasters. According to the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB), "SSA demonstrated the importance of good working relationships with the other agencies it relies on to get its job done." SSA worked closely with GSA to create temporary local offices. The Agency collaborated with the Postal Service and financial institutions to establish temporary mail stations, create special procedures, and ensure timely delivery of benefit checks. SSA provided services at FEMA relief centers. "SSA employees also participated in 'sweep teams' that visited shelters, nursing homes, and other locations where numbers of evacuees were staying, providing immediate payments, changes of address, Social Security number verification, and benefit applications." The same sort of activities took place across the country, SSA employees provided assistance as evacuees arrived.
SSA and its business partners share a concern about establishing an individual's identity and verifying eligibility for and receipt of benefits. SSA uses electronic verification processes to verify, modify, or terminate benefits as necessary. For example, SSA updates death records based on electronic reports of death from State Bureaus of Vital Statistics. SSA also has electronic data exchanges with numerous Federal benefit paying agencies.
Internally, SSA coordinates its Title II Disability Program with its Title XVI Program benefit determinations, payments, referral services, reviews, terminations, and other actions. SSA coordinates overpayment recovery among the income benefit programs it administers under Titles II, VIII and XVI of the Social Security Act.
Evidence: For information on SSI State Supplementation, see SSA Program Operations Management System, SI 01415, SI 00830.235, DI 52001.150 and DI 52001.155. Coordination with CMS: Interagency Agreement between SSA and CMS provides SSA with Medicare utilization data. 2006 SSI Annual Report. FY 2008 APP Means and Strategies (September, 2006). SSI Monthly Statistics, December 2006. "SSA Response to 2005 Hurricanes" (Social Security Advisory Board, March 2006, http://www.ssab.gov/documents/hurricane-2005.pdf. For information about SSA's disability initiatives and research demonstrations, see Social Security Online, Program Development and Research, http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/
Does the program use strong financial management practices?
Explanation: SSA has maintained the highest rating possible, a green, for overall status for the President's Management Agenda financial management initiative since June 2003. The Agency's financial statements received an unqualified audit opinion in FY 2006 for the thirteenth consecutive year. SSA has a well-established Agency-wide management control and financial management systems review program as required by the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA). SSA has no FMFIA material weaknesses and the Commissioner was able to provide reasonable assurance that internal control over financial reporting was operating effectively as of September 30, 2006.
SSA recently implemented the new Social Security Online Accounting and Reporting System Financial Information System (SSOARS FIS). This system permits financial users direct access to the SSOARS production spending data via a web portal. It provides more timely and accurate information to budget offices and managers throughout SSA, and provides users with the ability to publish reports and download data to spreadsheets so that they can manage their allocations against their actual spending.
Evidence: FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, pp. 60, 63, 91-92, 122, 175-181. 2006 SSI Annual Report.
Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?
Explanation: SSA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit and identify Agency programmatic, operational, administrative, systems, and other management issues. The Agency addresses their recommendations and tracks its response to them to help improve management deficiencies. The OIG annually audits a number of Social Security's performance measures and corresponding performance data. Again, SSA responds to any recommendations.
In June 2005, GAO acknowledged in its Major Management Challenges at the Social Security Administration that SSA has made some progress in addressing each of the four key management challenges and program risks GAO identified in 2003, though additional actions were needed. Specifically, GAO said SSA has:
?? continued to strengthen the integrity of the SSI program;
?? taken steps to improve its programs that provide support for individuals with disabilities;
?? made important progress since FY 2003 in addressing weaknesses in policies, procedures, and practices in key information technology areas; and
?? strengthened controls to protect personal information SSA develops and maintains.
The Agency also uses OMB's PMA "Scorecard" as a system for correcting program management deficiencies within a certain timeframe. SSA's continuing commitment to improvement is reflected in an OMB rating of "Green for Progress" in every "Eliminating Improper Payments" Program Initiative Scorecard since March 2005. SSA's projects to address the "improper payment" challenge include improved recipient wage reporting paths, increased automated data matching with financial institutions, electronic redeterminations, creation of a Non-Entitled Debtor system to control and resolve overpayments owed by non-recipients, roll-out of electronic death registration contracts with the States, etc.
OIG identified systems security and critical infrastructure protection as an SSA "management challenge," but the Agency is a Federal leader in responding to the new risks. A congressional report card rates SSA's computer security efforts as among the best in the Federal Government. Using Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) standards, the report gave SSA an "A+" grade. To avoid the massive personal data losses experienced by several other agencies and large businesses, SSA continually upgrades procedures for safeguarding personally identifiable information (PII). New procedures track the exit outside/reentry into secure SSA space of every file, document, or electronic device carrying PII.
GAO has identified "Improving the Disability Determination Service Process and Return to Work" as a major management challenge. SSI disability is included within GAO's list of Federal "High Risk" disability programs. OIG has identified management of the disability process as a major management challenge. In response, the Agency is making the first significant changes to the disability determination process in 50 years, changes that enhance SSA's ability to make accurate, consistent, and timely decisions.
SSA is also working to provide work supports and incentives to SSI recipients in overcoming employment barriers. Our policies are designed to encourage and reward such recipient efforts. Comprehensive Work Opportunity Initiative (CWOI) consists of a coordinated package of regulatory actions, research and demonstration projects and other measures intended to address barriers to work. They include: the Disability Program Navigator (DPN) project; the Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD); and new rules for continuing disability reviews and the expedited reinstatement of benefits when a former disability recipient must stop work.
Evidence: The Agency's Major Management Challenges are listed in the SSA FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, p. 24. See also SSA's FY 2008 Budget and Justification of Estimates (February 2007) and the FY 2008/Revised FY 2007 Annual Performance Plan (February 2007). For OIG, see "Top Issues Facing Social Security Administration Management, Fiscal Year 2007" (OIG, November, 2006). Relevant GAO reports include: High-Risk Series: An Update (GAO-07-310), January 2007, Major Management Challenges at the Social Security Administration" (GAO, June 2005); etc. (see http://www.gao.gov for all reports).
For more information about the Comprehensive Work Opportunity Initiative, see Social Security Online - The Red Book, (http://www.ssa.gov/redbook/eng/main.htm/), pp. 6-7, plus additional information on demonstrations and other initiatives at http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/.
Work incentive statutory references from the Social Security Act: 1148(Ticket to Work); 1633(d)(PASS); 223(i)(Expedited Reinstatement(EXR)); 1619(a) (b)(Medicaid while working); 223(d) (4)(Substantial Gainful Activity, SGA); 222(c)(Trial Work Period, TWP); 221(m)(CDR work activity protections)
|Section 3 - Program Management||Score||100%|
|Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability|
Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?
Explanation: Since 2004, SSA has met or exceeded its targets for initial disability processing time, work activity, and processing time for SSI aged claims. Average processing time for both initial disability claims and requests for hearings has increased in recent years due to the volume of receipts and learning curve for implementing the certain changes affecting disability, including the introduction of the electronic file (eDib). However, we expect this trend to turn around in the near future as the Agency begins to realize the benefits and efficiencies from investments at all levels of adjudication. SSA has come close to reaching the ambitious targets set for DDS net accuracy, and SSA hearing case productivity. SSA has taken aggressive steps in order to meet long-term SSI program goals and is poised for even stronger results in the long-term. SSA has not only undertaken a wide variety of new and successful stewardship initiatives, which have been highlighted throughout PART, but it has restructured the organization to improve management of the administrative appeals process and increase Agency efficiency and program quality. SSA has established a Deputy Commissioner for Disability Adjudication and Review to administer the hearing and appeals process and a Chief Quality Officer to focus on the quality of the Agency's programs. SSA net accuracy goal is 97 percent and in 2006, the Agency achieved a 96.2 percent net accuracy rate. SSA has introduced two new long-term measures that support timeliness of disability claims and overall customer service, both of which are an Agency priority for 2007 and beyond.
SSA continues to pursue means and strategies to reduce average disability processing time, improve payment accuracy, increase decisional accuracy and ensure that the right determination or decision is made as early in the disability process as possible. One of SSA's key initiatives is to implement Image Knowledge Base technology in hearing offices which will help to reduce backlogs. This technology utilizes computer character recognition to organize or extract information in an electronic case file. This will add significant efficiencies in exhibiting and preparing the case for hearing.
The most aggressive initiative to improve performance at the hearing level is to reduce the backlog. Specifically, the Agency plans to introduce a comprehensive initiative to reduce hearings backlogs and to lay a foundation for preventing a backlog from developing in the future. Although still in the process of refinement, the plan includes a set of short-, mid-, and long-term initiatives to initially slow the increase in pending, eliminate the backlog, and improve processing time.
In order to reduce improper payments to meet long-term goals, SSA has also undertaken a number of initiatives, including implementing a Corrective Action Plan, and conducting automated data matches with government agencies, banks and other financial institutions to detect wages and financial accounts. For example, in order to save administrative time, costs and to improve customer service, SSA established a variety of electronic online data exchanges with State and Federal agencies. These exchanges permit workers to obtain real time income and resource data, thereby allowing the Agency to detect overpayments and prevent future improper payments from being issued.
Evidence: SSI Corrective Action Plan (November 2005). FY 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP. SSA Performance and Accountability Report pp 38-40. SSA's Strategic Plan 2006-2011. RIN 0960-AG31, Administrative Review Process for Adjudicating Initial Disability Claims
Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?
Explanation: Overall, the Agency has met or almost met its six annual performance targets. The Agency has met its average processing time goal for the past 4 years. Timely processing of initial disability claims is a critical aspect of SSA's service delivery to the public. The Agency has made significant strides in this area over the last several years. The average processing time for initial disability claims has steadily decreased from 106 days in 2001 to 88 days in FY 2006. Since 2003, the agency has also consistently met its annual target of processing SSI Aged claims by the time the first payment is due or within 14 days of the effective filing date. There has been a steady upward trend, with a 9.6% increase between FY 2003 and FY 2006.
Additionally, the agency has met its yearly targets for its goal for those SSI recipients assigned with tickets, who work. For the past 3 years, the Agency has met its yearly targets. Through changes in legislation, advances in medicine, and technology improvements, the workplace is now more amenable to persons with disabilities than in past decades. SSA is committed to facilitating access to employment by educating employers and the public about the benefits of the Ticket to Work program.
Due to a series of complex rules and instructions for administering the disability adjudication process, SSA did not meet its annual net accuracy performance goal. In order to address the complexities of the disability adjudicative process, the DDSs invest significant time in training and mentoring programs and have expanded their in-line quality reviews of claims to include reviews of both Social Security and SSI claims ultimately aimed at helping them improve their performance in this area.
SSA is working hard to meet its overpayment and underpayment targets for the SSI program. Since FY 2004, SSA has almost met its annual targets for these two measures. Even so, the actual performance has been quite high for the percent of SSI payments free of overpayments, which has averaged 93.5%; for underpayments, it has averaged 98.75%. Particular emphasis has been given to improving the more complex SSI program. Achievement of this goal is linked to resources required to implement new error prevention initiatives. The reduction in the number of SSI non-disability redeterminations, which help to identify and reduce overpayments and underpayments, was a contributing factor to not meeting this goal. As resources permit, the Agency will continue to implement new initiatives that will help achieve this goal in the future.
SSA is also working to improve the hearing case production per workyear (PPWY) performance. In FY 2006, SSA restructured its organization to improve the management of its appeals process and provide increased accountability. The reorganization created a Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review who reports directly to the Commissioner. In addition, the hiring of 100 new Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) in February 2005 contributed to the increase in the number of SSA hearings processed.
Evidence: FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report pp. 73, 77, 79, 82, 92 and 93, 2008 APP and Revised Final FY 2007 APP
Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?
Explanation: SSA continues to improve efficiencies in meeting program goals each year. SSA's budget includes a commitment to achieve an average annual productivity increase of 2 percent through 2008. Since FY 2001, SSA has achieved a cumulative productivity improvement of 13.1 percent. This accomplishment is largely due to the hard work of the Agency's employees and the Agency's efforts to enhance and expand electronic services.
The electronic claims folder has significantly reduced the need to create mail and store paper disability files, allowing staff to process claims by quickly accessing and retrieving information. The average processing time for initial disability claims has decreased from 106 days in FY 2001 to 88 days in FY 2006. As SSA expands the use of electronic disability processing to the hearings workload, it is expected that we will see increased efficiency and important management information when completed. Since FY 2002, SSA has set ambitious targets for hearings case production per work year. SSA saw improvement from 97 to 103 from FY 1999 through FY 2003. The targeted production level for FY 2007 is 106. Although productivity declined to 100 in FY 2006, while SSA focused on transferring the Medicare hearings workload, we expect to see improvements in hearings case production.
SSA has taken proactive steps over the years to reduce the number of older claims that had accrued at the Appeals Council, resulting in significant accomplishments in this area. The average processing time for appeals of hearing decisions has also improved from 447 days in FY 2001 to 203 days in FY 2006. Factors contributing to the lowering of processing time include balancing workloads and identifying and clearing incoming cases ready for immediate processing.
SSA continues to rely heavily on continuing disability reviews, redeterminations, and data matches to make the program as cost-effective as possible. The Agency saves an estimated $10 for every $1 spent on processing CDRs and an estimated $7 for every $1 spent on processing redeterminations. The level of effort for these activities depends on funding.
Evidence: SSA's FY 2008 Budget Submission. FY 2006 PAR, pp. 77 and 101. SSI Corrective Action Plan (December 2006). FY 2005 SSI Redetermination Change Rate Study. FY 2008 Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committees, p. 79.
Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?
Explanation: There are no other programs similar in purpose and goals to the SSI program or at such a scale. While Social Security benefits have some similarities, such as their availability to aged and disabled adults, these benefits are based on a worker's insured status. The SSI program provides benefits to adults who are aged or disabled, and who have income and resources below specified amounts, whether or not they qualify for Social Security benefits. Additionally, the SSI program provides benefits to disabled children whose parents do not have sufficient income and resources to provide for their needs.
In December 2006, SSI benefits were paid to 7.2 million recipients totaling about $3.5 billion. There is no other government (or needs-based) program that can be compared in size or effect with the SSI program. There are no private programs that can compare in size or scope with the SSI program.
While private and public disability programs can offer lessons on isolated process components, differences in the programs being compared limit the relevance of direct comparisons. Private disability insurers generally assess whether a claimant can no longer do the same job. They rely heavily on SSA's determinations to decide the more difficult question of whether a claimant is able to work at all. Among public programs, variations in program requirements limit the usefulness of direct performance comparisons of aggregate measures such as total processing times.
Evidence: SSI Monthly Statistics, December 2006. Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 2005.
Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?
Explanation: While the program does achieve the objective of providing support to disabled and elderly individuals, program design limits its effectiveness. The Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB) has repeatedly noted that SSA must make significant modifications to the program if it wants to improve its productivity and processing times. Design limits lead to the following problems: inconsistency in decisions on claims made at the State and Federal levels; long delays in processing claims; and the failure to adapt the disability definition to changing medical technology, vocational options, and social attitudes toward disability.
In spite of these limitations, the GAO reported that SSI was an exceptionally effective program for those in desperate need of help after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. GAO evaluated five Federal programs (SSI, Social Security, Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) providing assistance to persons who lost their homes, employment, or other support because of the hurricanes. GAO concluded:
?? "Social Security and SSI were the only programs for which the Federal government had authority for service delivery and had disaster policies and procedures already in place??." (p. 21)
?? "SSA had the flexibility to shift staff where needed??." and already had a nationwide 800 number and an Internet application process to expedite services??." (p. 3)
?? "SSA routinely solicits feedback from SSA employees involved in a disaster response to identify lessons learned. SSA uses the feedback?? to revise the Agency's disaster strategies." (p. 39)
GAO identifies and evaluates programs at "high risk" due to their greater vulnerabilities to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or to major challenges associated with economy, efficiency, or effectiveness. In its most recent consolidated discussion of SSA's "major management challenges," GAO stated, "SSA has continued to strengthen the integrity of its Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSA's progress in developing new tools to improve SSI's financial integrity and management warranted removing the program's high-risk designation in 2003." GAO noted that SSA has:
?? continued to strengthen the SSI program's integrity;
?? taken steps to improve its programs that provide support for individuals with disabilities;
?? made important progress since FY 2003 in addressing weaknesses in policies, procedures, and practices in key IT areas; and
?? strengthened controls to protect personal information SSA develops and maintains.
The SSI CAP and related efforts have continued beyond this 2005 GAO assessment, and SSI remains off the high-risk list.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated in 2005 that SSI: improves the quality of life for the elderly and people with disabilities; helps make it possible for people with severe mental impairments or mental retardation to live in community settings instead of being institutionalized; helps low-income parents meet the added financial costs of caring for a child with a disability; and helps individuals with disabilities attempt to return to work and retain employment.
A 2006 National Bureau of Economic Research analysis found that the receipt of SSI by a child is associated with a statistically significant (11 percent) and persistent reduction in the probability that the child will live in poverty.
SSI's program effectiveness is also a product of SSA's internal financial controls, attested to by SSA financial statements, which routinely receive unqualified opinions from independent auditors. The FY 2005 PAR, which reports on SSA's financial controls, including those for SSI, received its eighth Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting from the Association of Government Accountants.
Evidence: SSAB, "How SSA's Disability Programs Can Be Improved," August 1998. SSAB, "Charting the Future of Social Security's Disability Programs: The Need for Fundamental Change," January 2001. "Hurricanes Katrina and Rita" (GAO-07-219, February 2007); for more information on the effects of the SSI program, see "Major Management Challenges at the Social Security Administration" (GAO, June 2005, at http://www.gao.gov/pas/2005/ssa.htm);"A Disability System for the 21st Century," (Social Security Advisory Board, 2006); Supplemental Security Income: Supporting People With Disabilities And The Elderly Poor (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Sweeney and Fremstad, revised 8/17/05. For more information on the effect of SSI on childhood poverty, see National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER Working Paper No. W11568, Duggan and Kearney, "The Impact of Child SSI Enrollment: Evidence from the Survey of Income and Program Participation" (August 2005).
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