SSA concerned about beneficiaries abroad

The Social Security Administration is developing plans to ensure that people who live overseas continue to receive benefits payments, despite potential Year 2000 problems at financial institutions abroad.

Of the 300,000 beneficiaries who receive payments overseas, 100,000 receive the money via direct bank deposit, according to SSA Commissioner Kenneth Apfel, speaking at a hearing before the Ways and Means Committee.

Apfel said he is concerned that the foreign banks are behind in their Year 2000 efforts and may not have the resources to guarantee electronic payment. "[Foreign] banks are not as on top of it as the banks in the U.S.," he said.

In the United States, 96 percent of the nation's banking and financial institutions are on track to complete Year 2000 fixes by June 1999, according to the most recent evaluation by federal regulators.

SSA is scheduled to complete the development of all its contingencies plans by April 30 and complete testing of all those plans by June 30, according to GAO.

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