This suggestion applies to the entire Federal Government, not just the Social Security Administration.
The Federal Travel Regulation allows employees traveling on official business to claim a daily M&IE allowance if they travel outside their official station and are in official travel status for more than 12 hours. The M&IE allowance currently ranges from $46 - $71 depending on the location. The FTR allows employees to claim the full M&IE allowance for the location visited regardless of the dollar amount they actually spend on meals. For example, an employee traveling to Seattle, WA, where the M&IE rate is $71 (on non-travel days), can currently claim the full $71 even if that employee only spends $40 on meals that day.
My recommendation is to elminate the automatic entitlement to the full M&IE allowance for the location visited; instead, the M&IE rates should be viewed as limits for reimbursement. If an employee actually spends $40 on meals at a location with a $71 M&IE rate, the employee's reimbursement for meals should be limited to $40 (plus the applicable incidental expense allowance). Accordingly, travelers should be required to provide all meal receipts as evidence of the dollar amount they spent.