SSA misses target for retirement applications online

Agency saw 37 percent of applications go online in fiscal 2010

The Social Security Administration reduced backlogs and increased the pace of its disability assessments in fiscal 2010, but missed its target for increasing online applications from retirees, according to an internal SSA report.

Overall, out of 35 performance measures, the SSA met the targets for 26 measures, failed three measures and is awaiting further results on six measures, states the SSA Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2010.  The agency conducted the review and issued the report internally late last year, but only recently made it public.

One of the most prominent goals that the SSA just missed in fiscal 2010 had to do with the target for moving a larger proportion of the approximately 2.4 million annual retiree applications for benefits to an online form, rather than paper forms.


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For fiscal 2010, the SSA set as a target level having 38 percent of the applications be made online, up from 32 percent online in fiscal 2009. The final percentage for the fiscal year was 37 percent.

The percentage of online applications trended upward during the course of the year, in the final weeks of the year, the percentage of online applications was close to 40 percent, the report said.

“Online retirement claims accounted for 37 percent of all retirement applications filed in [fiscal] 2010 that were eligible for filing online,” the report said. “This was a 16 percent increase over [fiscal] 2009. Although we barely missed our target, we will continue to encourage more people to use our online services. We are also conducting several surveys with people who have filed for benefits online to assess how we can better address the public’s needs.”

By fiscal 2012, as the Baby Boomer generation retires, the SSA hopes to have 50 percent of its new applications from retirees to be filed online.

The SSA also fell short on the performance goal of achieving 83.5 percent customer satisfaction (rating service as good, very good or excellent); the final score was 78.2 percent. The agency also did not meet a budgeted target for hearings held during the year.

The SSA said it met goals for completing the budgeted number of hearing requests and reducing processing time and the backlog of the oldest pending requests, among other targets.









About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sun, Mar 20, 2011

The third paragraph in the article is misleading. SSA does not normally take paper applications. The goal referenced above is actually to take applications via the internet application, rather than face-to-face or over the phone. When SSA takes claims, an electronic system is used, not paper. Applications are only taken on paper when systems are down, and when non-profit agencies file on behalf of individuals. The claims then have to entered into the system.

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