Social Security plans IT improvements

Cobol replacement is a long-term goal of the Social Security Administration, SSA's commissioner plans information technology improvements with near-term benefits.

The Social Security Administration plans to lessen its dependence on mainframe technology during the next decade or so and make many other information technology improvements during that time, SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue told the House Ways and Means Committee today.The agency’s core systems comprise about 36 million lines of Cobol, Astrue said. “Given the huge amount of code we inherited,” he said, "it’s going to take some time” to shift to a more modern platform, but he promised to start the process. “I think the agency got comfortable with the Cobol technology,” Astrue said, and that now makes it more difficult to automate SSA operations.At a hearing focused on reducing the long-standing backlogs in processing disability claims, Astrue said more employees are needed to process initial claims and adjudicate appeals of claims that are denied. More automation is in store when Congress appropriates the necessary money, he said.Astrue said the agency wants to replace the disability determination systems used by the 50 states and four territories. SSA provides the systems, and the states operate them. Each system is different, and maintaining the separate systems is expensive and inefficient, he said.“We’ve been negotiating with the states for about nine months” to obtain consensus on a single new system, Astrue said. “It will be an enormous step forward if we can do that.”A new software tool called the Electronic Case Analysis Tool (eCAT) will help disability examiners collect the correct information faster, he said. An early version of eCAT was fielded prematurely “and failed miserably,” but a better development process and extensive testing should result in a different outcome next year, he said.A new national hearing center houses judges who hear disability cases through remote connections to locations with the worst backlogs, Astrue said. This program  has been successful and will be expanded, he said. The agency is also testing a program that will let lawyers who represent SSA claimants conduct video hearings from their offices, he said. “This initiative should offer convenience and comfort for many claimants, save time for attorneys and cut down on our investment in bricks and mortar, a cost which increases above the rate of inflation year after year,” Astrue added.A new online application form for Social Security benefits will debut in September, replacing an 8-year-old form used by only about one in 10 retirees. The new, simplified form can be completed in one-third the time and with fewer errors, he said.Visitors to SSA offices soon will go first to a kiosk where they will check in and register the reason for their visit. Also, waiting areas will have PCs where some visitors may be able to accomplish their business with SSA electronically.“Although our electronic services are usually ranked as the best of all federal agencies, my judgment is they are far from good enough yet to deal with the imminent tsunami of baby boomers’ claims,” Astrue said.The Ways and Means Committee members were generally supportive, as were the other witnesses at the hearing. However, Sylvester Schieber, chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board, said eCAT development was not coordinated with the system’s users. “There appears to be a lack of a holistic electronic-systems strategy…linked to a well-thought-out process structure that is properly resourced and that emphasizes the interdependence of the operating components,” he stated.
X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.