SSA to offer revised Web benefit, earnings system

IDG News Service

T he Social Security Administration last week unveiled a revised version of a controversial system that allows people to view their benefits information via the Internet.

The system has been modified to take into account a flood of criticism that forced SSA to close the application on April 9 a little more than a month after it was first offered.

"Nothing is more important to Social Security than maintaining the public's confidence in our ability to protect the privacy of personal information we maintain in our records " said acting Social Security commissioner John Callahan.

By the end of the year workers once again will be able to view information pertaining to SSA's Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) on SSA's World Wide Web site (www.ssa.gov) Callahan said. PEBES includes information regarding year-by-year earnings history Social Security taxes paid and estimates of retirement disability and survivor benefits payable to workers and family members.

In 1996 3.4 million workers requested a paper copy of their PEBES according to SSA. In the four weeks that it was offered online more than 70 000 people requested to view the information on the Internet.

But Congress and the public criticized SSA after news reports showed the ease with which anyone knowing some basic information could gain access to other individuals' PEBES. SSA closed the PEBES application temporarily to consult with the public Internet service providers (ISPs) and banks on how to make it more secure.

New features of the revised system include:

* Individual Social Security records will be locked out of the Internet unless an individual opts into the new service and those who request online service will be able to opt in only after being informed of the benefits and risks of unlocking their personal information online.

* Delivery of information will be available only to those who have a registered e-mail account such as one with an employer or ISP.

* Users will be required to provide their name as it appears on their Social Security card Social Security number date of birth state of birth and mother's maiden name. A verification code will then be sent to the user who only then will be able to obtain the PEBES information online.

* The modified online PEBES will show benefit estimates number of work credits earned and whether the requester is insured for benefits but it will not show earnings history.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.