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Why the Social Security Administration Assumed Control of the SSI Program

Posted on:8/30/2012
The Social Security Administration could have deferred implementation or elected to implement SSI gradually, but instead it assumed control on January 1, 1974.


The Social Security Administration could have deferred implementation or elected to implement SSI gradually, but instead it assumed control on January 1, 1974. Several reasons have been advanced to explain the ensuing problems. First, the changeover from state administration to federal administration was complicated by changes in personnel in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare between October 1972 and January 1, 1974.

 

During that time, a secretary and undersecretary, and other key policy makers assumed office. The new appointees had different ideas and philosophies, and it took time for them to become acquainted with SSI and other related programs. Second, conflicts between federal and state agencies and within federal agencies slowed the administrative transition. Numerous state officials resented federal intrusion into their programs and were upset by what they perceived as federal employees chiding them for alleged administrative inefficiencies. Third, the Social Security Administration underestimated the administrative problems inherent in making payments under "means-tested" programs.

 

This was partly the result of misconceptions stemming from the comparatively routinized eligibility and payment procedures under the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program (OASDI). Fourth, the Congress intensified administrative complexities by modifying the enabling legislation a few times before SSI was launched. Fifth, the Social Security Administration may not have had sufficient resources to develop supportive administrative systems.


  
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