Social Security Staff Shortage Contributes to Longest Customer Wait Times in These States

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Since 2010, Congress has reduced Social Security’s operating budget by 17%, says a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As a result, the Social Security Administration has had to close field offices and lay off staff members. This has led to long delays when people call Social Security with questions or for help filing for benefits.

In 2022, the CBPP found, the SSA is at its lowest level of staffing in 25 years. It’s also under a hiring freeze, which means there could be little relief in sight. The SSA expects to lose 4,500 front-line employees this year, the CBPP reported.

The pandemic and subsequent labor shortage have exacerbated long wait times. The Social Security Administration answered 31 million calls in 2021, according to CNBC.

Staffing shortages and reduced budgets also lead to delays in processing Social Security disability claims. In April 2022, the wait time to process an initial disability claim was up to six months, nearly double the usual three-to-four-month wait time applicants experienced in the past.

The CBPP revealed which states have been hit the hardest by cuts, leading to longer customer wait times.

West Virginia and Alaska have lost 30% to 50% of their staff in the past 11 years. Meanwhile, states that have had their staff reduced by 20% to 30% are:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
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Similarly, if you’ve filed a disability claim in the following states, which lost 25% to 50% of their staff, you could experience a long wait before receiving benefits:

  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia

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