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For over 75 years the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, has touched the lives of virtually every American, whether it is after the loss of a loved one, at the onset of a disability, or during the transition from work to retirement.
Today, however, SSA faces complex management challenges that are linked to the profound demographic and system changes happening in the country. It is at this historically critical juncture that SSA has sought to enhance its ability to meet its mission, eliminating claim backlogs, reversing negative trends, improving services, and demonstrating the nexus between adequate funding and the ability to deliver real and measureable progress.
Michael Astrue, Commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration joined me on The Business of Government Hour to explore these questions and so much more. Here are some insights from our discussion.
On Leading SSA
SSA was founded in 1935; it’s one of the largest federal agencies. We have about 65,000 federal employees and about 16,000 state employees, who work exclusively for us around the country. We have about 1,500 physical facilities. Most of them are field offices, but we also have offices for hearings. My responsibilities are very operational. There’s been an understanding since we became an independent agency that some of the big policy issues on solvency are more properly handled by the Secretary of Treasury. My term is a six-year term. It’s – I think among people that work on nominations it’s called a soft term rather than a hard term. So when my term is over January 19th of next year I don’t have to leave immediately, I’m allowed to stay until a successor is confirmed. I think that reflects an intent by Congress to try to maintain continuity.
On Challenges, Strategic Vision, Disability Claims, Leveraging Health IT, and Motivating the Workforce
In this clip, Commissioner Astrue outlines the challenges facing SSA, how its tackling its disability claims backlog, leveraging health IT, and keeping his staff motivated:
You can access the complete program and listen to my entire conversation with Commissioner Michael Astrue at The Business of Government Hour–Interview with Michael Astrue.
You can listen to The Business of Government Hour every Monday at 11 a.m., Wednesday at Noon, and Friday, at 2 p.m. on Federal News Radio 1500AM WFED.