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Johnson Statement: Hearing on Social Security Administration Field Office Service Delivery

April 15, 2010

Good morning. 

I first want to congratulate our new Chairman as this is his first hearing in his new role. 

No one understands the vital safety net Social Security provides for retirees, those with disabilities and families than Members of this Subcommittee, which is why I look forward to working with you to address issues of importance to the American people — and none more so than fixing Social Security.

On this issue Mr. Chairman, I hope we can find a bipartisan way forward. 

There’s no question that current and near retirees deserve the peace of mind of knowing that they will receive full Social Security retirement benefits. 

Yet at the same time, we also have a responsibility to younger workers to fix Social Security so it can be there for them as well.  And Mr. Chairman, I believe that this Subcommittee and Congress as a whole should address Social Security – not a Commission. 
Turning to today’s hearing, we know that millions of Americans choose to do their business at their local Social Security office. 

Now while there are other ways to handle personal matters, such as calling Social Security or using its website for many of our constituents, there’s just nothing like talking to somebody face-to-face. 

The good folks at local offices are not just the face of Social Security but they are literally on the front lines. 

Unfortunately, these folks have been feeling the pinch, and they know they can’t answer the phones, serve people quickly, or process all the work facing them.  And that’s just wrong.  Americans want, need and deserve effective, high-quality service because they are paying for it.  

But just providing more taxpayer money for the Social Security Administration can’t and shouldn’t be the only means of better serving the American public.  Social Security needs to be fully committed and dedicated to making the best use of taxpayer dollars. 

That means Social Security needs to (1) efficiently allocate resources, (2) streamline work processing with improved technology, and (3) continually root out program waste, fraud and abuse, including conducting continuing disability reviews. 

Such efforts will better serve those who need Social Security while at the same time better protecting the American taxpayer. 

I thank our witnesses for joining us today and look forward to hearing their testimony.