“For millions of people who retire each year, you should be able to apply for Social Security benefits without needing to go to a Social Security office,”
This was what President Biden said this week when he signed an executive order to streamline processes involved in applying for social security services and benefits. Social Security, is a social insurance program consisting of retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.
The Pandemic has prompted government agencies to move their services online to ensure easy access to beneficiaries. Other services are also slated to be improved through online tools like filing taxes, helping Medicare enrollments, access personalized information, expanded customer support.
Some Challenges at the Agency
The Office of the Inspector General said in a recent annual report “The transition has affected the federal agency’s services, with some offices facing a significant backlog of traditional mail, the government agency does not know the exact volume of mail it is processing, which makes it difficult to properly adjust staffing levels”
“Because of this backlog, people went even longer without original documents that they might need for other purposes,” said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
It is reported that the offices also lack “comprehensive policies and procedures” to track and return original documents that are provided with applications for benefits or Social Security cards. That includes driver’s licenses, birth certificates, passports, and naturalization documents.
Benefits of the Executive Order.
It is expected that with the executive order, applicants and beneficiaries will be able to upload their forms and documents online, use electronic signatures, the SSA agency will be able to share data with other government agencies, the agency will also be able to help beneficiaries identify opportunities.
Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare made some elaborations to the executive order by President Biden.
The executive order requires the Social Security commissioner to provide a report to the Office of Management and Budget within 120 days identifying potential areas for policy reforms.
“These efforts is all about removing obstacles that prevent people from getting their earned benefits,” he said.
“Field offices are still a critical link for people who either don’t have online access or the skills to go online and use a computer,” Adcock said.