SSA speeds e-disability system

The Social Security Administration is accelerating its electronic disability system and plans to put it into production in January 2004 — rather than 2008 — as the agency faces a steady increase of disability claim filings.

SSA already has several small pilot projects under way to support its Accelerated Electronic Disability System (AeDib) effort, said Tom Hughes, chief information officer at SSA.

AeDib will move the disability program to an electronic environment, eliminating paper documents and making it easier to review and transfer information associated with the disability claims process.

SSA plans to produce the system in 18 months, and it will be ready to roll out nationwide in January 2004, Hughes said. Originally, the system was scheduled for a 2008 rollout. "It's a commitment the agency has made and that we're moving forward with," he said, adding that he is confident it can be accomplished in that time frame.

A large percentage of SSA's business now includes disability filings, Hughes said. "This has become a very large part of our operations, of our workload," he said. "We're automating that process and that requires close cooperation with [the] 50 states, so we're collaborating in deployment of this accelerated e-disability process."

SSA requested $13.9 million in the fiscal 2004 budget for the AeDib program, which is the biggest IT project SSA is undertaking. It also requested $81.6 million for its desktop infrastructure program, which supports the agency's plan to replace desktop computers every three years. SSA also is using this money to move from a Token Ring network to an Ethernet network, Hughes said.

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