No money to run office, Social Security chief says

December 19, 1990|By New York Times

WASHINGTON -- The commissioner of Social Security warns that the money provided in the recent budget agreement was not enough to operate the agency through the remaining nine months of the current fiscal year.

The commissioner, Gwendolyn S. King said yesterday she would ask the White House to release a "contingency reserve" of $146.4 million and was preparing a separate request to Congress for supplemental appropriations.

Her plans came to light as the federal budget director, Richard G. Darman, notified more than 100 government agencies of his preliminary decisions on their budget requests for the next fiscal year.

In most cases, he allowed less than had been requested.

Cabinet officers and other agency administrators have until the end of this week to challenge those decisions.

Congress earmarked $4.2 billion to cover the administrative costs of

Social Security in the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. But King and other Social Security officials said that was not enough.

The shortage could adversely affect services to Social Security beneficiaries, but does not in any way jeopardize the benefits of people who are legally entitled to them.

In a memorandum analyzing the problem, Janice L. Warden, acting deputy commissioner of Social Security, said the spending limits set by Congress "will cause severe cutbacks to public service" provided by Social Security field offices.

"We project that field offices, teleservice centers and program service centers will run out of supplies by the middle of the fiscal year," she wrote.

Warden warned that the agency's central records office, which makes a permanent record of earnings for millions of American workers, "will run out of both office and computer supplies during the second quarter" of the fiscal year, from January through March 1991.

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