SSA ready for Year 2000

The Social Security Administration's 10-year, $48 million Year 2000 remediation effort soon will be tested, and the agency's commissioner said Tuesday the agency has been ready for a while.

SSA Commissioner Kenneth Apfel said the agency's 308 mission-critical computer systems and supporting 35 million lines of code have been Year 2000-compliant for more than a year.

"Our goal all along has been to have a Y2K-compliant system ready and tested a year beforehand so that if other unanticipated problems arose, they could be resolved quickly and without impacting our customers," Apfel said at a press conference at the Information Coordination Center.

Apfel said the agency, which issued about $400 billion in benefit payments last year to about 50 million Americans, already has delivered the January 2000 check and direct deposit payment files to the Treasury. He said paper checks would be delivered to the Postal Service a day earlier than usual next week to ensure on-time delivery.

Also, if there is a disruption to the benefit payments, all 1,300 Social Security offices will be able to issue up to $999 to recipients in "dire need.'' Apfel said "dire need'' would be left to the discretion of individual Social Security offices.

SSA opened its command center at its Baltimore headquarters Monday. It will be staffed 24 hours a day Dec. 30 through Jan. 7. The agency plans to test its National Computer Center and the 1,800 local area networks at field offices beginning at 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1. It will do the same for the national 800 number at 1 p.m.

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