SSA sets goal of 50 percent online applications for retirees

Disabled would apply online 25 percent of the time by 2012

The Social Security Administration aims to have 50 percent of retirement applications and 25 percent of disability applications filed online by 2012, according to a new report on the agency’s performance goals.

About 80 million baby boomers are expected to retire during the next two decades, and SSA is preparing for their needs by putting more services online.

“With this wave of new applications, it is essential that we provide multiple service options, which include easy, user-friendly online and automated services,” states the SSA Annual Performance Plan for Fiscal 2011 and Revised Performance Plan for Fiscal 2010, which was published on the Web on Feb. 1.

Currently, about 32 percent of retirees submit their initial application for benefits online. The SSA has set targets of 38 percent online in 2010, 44 percent online in 2011 and 50 percent online in 2012.


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The agency is publicizing its efforts with an online webinar and a video on YouTube and has engaged celebrity Patty Duke to be the spokeswoman for a publicity campaign to promote online filing.

To facilitate the online applications, the agency is expanding its iClaim online application, which is a streamlined version of its former online application. This year, SSA will release an abbreviated version of iClaim allowing people to file for Medicare only.

In 2009, about 21 percent of disability claims were filed online. The SSA hopes to increase that percentage to 25 percent by 2012.

The number of initial disability claims is expected to peak at 3.3 million this year, up nearly 30 percent from 2008 levels. Experts say disability claims tend to rise during a recession, when jobs are being eliminated and work is more difficult to find.

The SSA also is expanding its use of electronic health data exchange to speed the processing of its disability applications. It recently awarded more than $17 million in contracts to 15 health exchanges to allow hospitals to share their patient medical data with the SSA electronically.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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