Social Security Entirely Electronic in the Next Decade?

Moving to a more electronic system is a reform often cited as a way to improve the efficiency and lower the costs of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). For many disabled and low income beneficiaries and applicants, though, this may pose a problem as internet access is not as readily available for them. Any changes to the application process should not create new burdens for anyone seeking disability benefits.

Most of the SSA’s processing of disability benefits applications still uses human interaction, whether in person or on the phone. Last year, about one-fourth of disability applicants filed their claims online, but the number continues to grow as more tech-savvy applicants opt for online-filing versus frustrating waits in person or on the phone.

A recent report from the SSA’s inspector general recommended that the SSA develop a 10-year plan to implement easier-to-use online customer service. One advisory panel from the SSA even said that the SSA should prepare for a system where 90 percent of its transactions are online.

An online system should be no substitute for effective service, however. The SSA already suffers from claims of excessive bureaucracy and inconsistent decision making. A danger with online systems is that a human element is lacking, leading to fears of programs alone rendering disability decisions.

Theft of Social Security numbers and other private information is also a potential problem if the SSA and applicants conduct all of their business online. As stories abound about hackers gaining access to government agencies, information stored electronically is never entirely secure. Would an entirely electronic Social Security disability system be a good move?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers

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