The Senate on Friday approved legislation that would make the Social Security Administration an independent agency, taking it out of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The separation would take effect on March 31, 1995, creating a new agency, among the largest in the federal government with a budget of $325 billion, 65,000 employees and 1,300 field offices.The bill was approved on a voice vote and sent to the House, which is expected to add its endorsement and send the measure to President Clinton to sign into law.
Supporters say making Social Security an independent agency will help restore public confidence in the government's largest domestic program. They say the agency will become more visible, less vulnerable to budget cuts, and better insulated from partisan politics.
The legislation also sets a 36-month limit on cash benefits paid to drug addicts and alcoholics who collect disability benefits from Supplemental Security Income.