SSA grows Web services
- By Bryant Jordan
- Dec 10, 2000
A month after offering online capabilities for retirement benefit applications,
the Social Security Administration said Dec. 7 that it will expand its electronic
capabilities in 2001 to cover applications for survivor and spousal benefits
and disability compensation.
SSA also may offer online chat communications next year between its
staff and the public — a move that would eliminate thousands of mailings
Officials and an agency consultant shared their forecast during SSA's
pilot e-government presentation at the General Services Administration.
SSA launched its online retirement application process Nov. 2, and by
Dec. 6, 6,235 people had used the service. Some applicants remarked on the
efficiency of the online process, said William Halter, SSA's deputy commissioner.
"We couldn't have paid for these kinds of quotes," Halter said. One
customer asked, " "Are you guys really a government agency?' "
Even with online applications, some supporting documents, such as birth
certificates, still must be mailed. Halter said that will be eliminated
when documents can be moved and verified electronically. SSA also will conduct
a pilot digital signature program next year.
Of the proposed online chats, V. Douglas Hines of KPMG Consulting LLC
said the feature would allow an SSA staff member to "push" a hyperlink with
additional information to a customer electronically instead of sending the
information through the mail.