Aug 15, 2014

Senator Hears About Social Security Service Problems

     From a story in the Missoulian about a town hall meeting that Senator John Walsh (D-MT) held in Missoula:
Mary Olson, who worked for the Social Security Administration for 29 years and now works for Missoula Aging Services, told Walsh the plan to move the program entirely online in 11 years, called “Vision 2025,” is destined for disaster. 
“The majority of rural America does not know how to use an online system, and it won’t work,” she said. “There is no simple part of Social Security. I wasn’t a social worker, but I became one working for the Social Security Administration. There are so many twists in the system. Even something as simple as putting in what date you want your benefits to start is extremely complicated if you don’t know all the information.”
 Olson recalled the story of one woman who didn’t realize she was eligible for $700 a month more in benefits because she had been married 40 years earlier. 
“These are people that are facing end-of-life issues, they are destitute and they aren’t getting the benefits they need,” she said. “That’s a travesty in my opinion.” 
Olson said that SSA supervisors are poorly trained.
 “There’s no quality control or accountability any more,” she said. “Back 10 or 20 years ago, we were focused on customer service. You couldn’t be rude with somebody. It’s all different now. The SSA needs a look, like the Department of Veterans Affairs got. It’s time to look into it, because the same things are going on.”


Anonymous said...

I don't know what area ms/mrs olson live in. But i live in a very rural area,one old fashion store in the community and that is it.

In my rural area,there is no pharmacy,no hospital,no doctor office,no post office,attorney office etc,. The nearest town is a 20 minutes drive,NO SSA office.

A full online SSA service would be great! A person could aquire record information,respond to forms,etc. I hope additional online services are available quickly.

In regards to the article,i know how to use the online system,it's not that hard.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Olson's comments demonstrate that she is a dinosaur. One of those who would love to go back to the days of the horse and buggy because "rural" people will never figure out how to drive these new fangled cars.

give me a break. the amount of people who truly are computer illiterate is staggeringly small. pushing everything online, not only makes it easier to reach everyone who lives out in the middle of nowhere, it's cheaper and more efficient. if you truly cannot use a computer, you have a friend or family member who can help you or do it for you.

Anonymous said...

The Social Security Adm. is not The amount of SSA's workload that can be done online is greatly overstated, because most people have no clue as to how complex SSA's programs are. SSI cannot be done online, except for the initial disability report. SSN's cannot be done online. Workers' comp issues cannot, claims involving multiple wage-earners cannot, and the list goes on. Oh, you could MAKE some of these things be online, but the end result would be garbage, and people would be disadvantaged. But let's worship technology for its own sake, and ridicule those who urge caution.

Anonymous said...

i would like to at least see some one in the areas without a office have someone that can fax either at the foodstamp office or hud offices that can send documents and print out earning papers for ssa

Anonymous said...

Social security programs are extremely complex, and it takes years for a human to learn enough to provide competent service. SSA hasn't even gotten their computers programmed to do the simple stuff, in many cases -- such as cutting off letters to reps when the rep withdraws. The computer programming principle of "garbage in, garbage out" will apply. The poster who said Ms Olsen is a dinosaur: he/she doesn't know social security complexities, and has no clue what he/she doesn't know. Vision 2025 will be a disaster if fully implemented -- and I wouldn't be surprised if it is being engineered for the profit of computer software companies, by folks whose ultimate goal is to eliminate social security.

Anonymous said...

The move to online services has the unintended (or perhaps it was intended) result of causing individuals to miss out of filing for all the potential benefits they may be eligible for.

I routinely see folks who were forced to file DIB applications online and failed to click that they also wanted to file for SSI because they had no clue what SSI is. Same holds true for folks who at the time of filing may not be eligible say for disabled widows benefits but a month or two may later be. No one ever advises them to file that application once they become eligible. (I just ran into 2 of that particular situation earlier this week).

Claimants are presumed to know all there is to know about the various SSA benefits when in fact most of them have no clue and think all the various types of benefits are one in the same.

Anonymous said...

I know there is still some computer illiteracy out there but I suspect it is over-stated.

But reality is the government has yet be able to come up with a computer system that can accurately calculate Federal retirement because of the multiple factors involved.

There are some sophisticated selections that can arise that only a trained human can so far answer.

A friend and his girlfriend both widowed and planning to retire in a couple years were blown away at all the huge differences that could be created based on retirement dates and whether or not their relationship moves forward to marriage.

Anonymous said...

To anyone who really thinks that the general public will be able to "serve themselves" online, you are delusional.

I live in a fairly sophisticated metropolitan area and I can tell you that the claimant's that attempt to apply online more likely than not either have great difficulty or give up all together. There are even reps in my area who try to help the claimants apply online, and even they have problems.

Our programs are very complex and unless you are drinking the Koolaid, you know that except for very basic issues, the claimant's are put at a huge disadvantage without any guidance from a qualified CR.