GAO: Improvements Needed in Facilities Planning and Service Delivery Evaluation
SSA has one of the largest physical footprints of any federal agency. It has about 1,500 facilities nationwide, including field offices where customers can meet with SSA staff to apply for benefits and conduct other business. SSA is re-examining its footprint in light of expanding online and other remote service options and a 2012 government-wide initiative to make more efficient use of physical space.
SSA reduced the total square footage of its facilities by about 1.4 million square feet (or about 5 percent) from fiscal years 2012 to 2016, according to GAO's analysis, by applying new standards for determining the size of offices and consolidating facilities (see figure). SSA has also expanded the services it offers remotely, and online use has increased for certain services such as disability and retirement applications. Despite this increase, in-person contacts at field offices have not changed substantially, with about the same number in fiscal year 2016 as in fiscal year 2007 (approximately 43 million). Report.
GAO: Social Security Number: OMB and Federal Efforts to Reduce Collection, Use, and Display
SSNs are key pieces of identifying information that potentially may be used to perpetrate identity theft. Thieves find SSNs valuable because they are the identifying link that can connect an individual's information across many agencies, systems, and databases.
In its draft report, GAO noted that several governmentwide initiatives aimed at eliminating the unnecessary collection, use, and display of Social Security numbers (SSN) have been underway in response to recommendations that the presidentially appointed Identity Theft Task Force made in 2007 to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, these initiatives have had limited success. Report.
GAO: Supplemental Security Income: SSA Could Strengthen Its Efforts to Encourage Employment for Transition-Age Youth
The Social Security Administration's (SSA) primary approach for encouraging employment for transition-age youth (ages 14 to 17) with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is work incentives that allow them to keep at least some of their SSI benefits and Medicaid coverage while they work. But few transition-age youth benefit from these incentives. SSI is a means-tested program that provides cash benefits to eligible low-income aged, blind, and disabled individuals. SSA administers several work incentives that allow SSI recipients to exclude some income and expenses when calculating SSI benefits.
The work incentive targeted specifically to younger SSI recipients is the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), which allows income to be excluded from benefits calculations if a recipient is a student under age 22. However, less than 1.5 percent of all transition-age youth—and generally less than half of those with earnings—benefited from SEIE in 2012 through 2015. SSA does not analyze these data, and thus cannot determine why the majority of youth with earnings are not benefiting from SEIE, when they may be eligible. SSA data also show that almost no youth benefited from other incentives that allow them to exclude earnings used for specific purposes, such as the Impairment-Related Work Expenses incentive. Report.
GAO: SSA Disability Benefits: Antifraud Efforts Need a Comprehensive Strategic Approach
SSA has taken steps to identify and address fraud risks in its disability programs, but it has not yet comprehensively assessed these fraud risks or developed a strategic approach to help ensure its antifraud activities effectively mitigate those risks. Over the last year, SSA gathered information about fraud risks, but these efforts generally have not been systematic and did not assess the likelihood, impact, or significance of all risks that were identified.
SSA also has several prevention and detection activities in place to address known fraud risks in its disability programs such as fraud examination units, which review disability claims to help detect fraud perpetrated by third parties. However, SSA has not developed and documented an overall antifraud strategy that aligns its antifraud activities to its fraud risks. Report.