May 15, 2016

The Inadequacy Of Online Claims Filing

     Note to anyone who thinks Social Security will soon be able to transact all its business online: You still can't file a claim for Supplemental Security Income Benefits online. You can't even file a claim for Disabled Widows or Widowers Benefits online. Social Security has a long way to go with its online systems and I've seen little, if any, progress in years. To repeat, I've seen little, if any, progress in years in Social Security's online systems in years.


Dan Smith said...

It's a shame because the types of progressive disclosure programs that could handle such online applications are fairly intuitive and quick to produce. I've written several so far and could probably produce one with a shareware program in a manner of hours just following the directions on SSI's paper application.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, local field offices are no longer even allowing us to use the paper SSI application. For many years, I have filed the Title II online with the election of SSI benefits and filed a full SSI application on paper send with my rep documents and the medical authorization forms. At the point, the locals are stopping this stating that all the SSI applications have to be done by them in person or by phone. I think this is just a way to slow applications. While we all know about lengthening hearing backlog, the bigger story is the delays being built into initial applications and reconsideration. It's not taking longer to actually process them, but there are built in "holds" and delays now. A case may sit a few weeks or month waiting to be assigned to an examiner. And, any approval at initial or reconsideration ends up at QR for more delay.

Anonymous said...

I don't like paper SSI aps because I frequently find that when I do the PERC and ask the claimant all of the questions again I find all kinds of income/resource/living arrangement issues that weren't on the paper application. It makes us wonder if the rep really does a thorough interview or if they influence the claimant to not disclose.

However, I would strongly recommend to anyone that they do an online dib application rather than a phone interview with a CR. As a CR I am in a hurry. If the claimant is not prepared, I don't have time for that. I have another appointment waiting out front. My phone is ringing and voice mails are accumulating. The mailman just got here with a pile of envelopes for me. Management is sending me emails and wactions that need to be addressed asap. I need to get through the claim and off the phone and move onto someone else. If you do your own claim online, you can make sure it is complete.

healthriau said...

nice, i like your article.

Anonymous said...

6:00pm comment should scare us all, rep, claimant, SSA. "I need to get through the claim and off the phone and move onto someone else."

Not a person, not an action that may well decide the life of a human being, can dictate the quality of life for a person, can lead to possible recovery, or at least keep them living from living in a box.

A Claim.

Something to get through.

I don't have time for that.

The process is the point, not the outcome. You are just another piece of meat, a voice on the line, just a box to be checked, a line to be filled in.

Some will blame the CR. They have never walked in those shoes. You go from retiring a guy that made $250,000 a year for the last 20 years to a DIB app with a guy that has cockroaches crawling out of his clothing from the dumpster he slept in. No matter what the CR does they will leave further behind.

We need more CRs. They need time to process. We need legislation to stop LTD companies from forcing everyone to file, clogging the system. We need reps to be responsible with the claims they take. We need temporary disability and retraining programs.

What do we get? Broken claims, broken claimants, broken reps and broken CRs.

Anonymous said...

@6:00 PM I think you got to crux of why the SSI app is not online. There is a sense that they will click no, no, no knowing they could be denied for income/resources, but when you actually ask the questions, you may get an honest response.

Anonymous said...

And so much changes with the SSI folks in the time between filing and a PERC. Gee things aren't the exact same two years later with no income? I am shocked!

Anonymous said...

Mark my words - the agency will never be able to create an acceptable online application process for SSI. And, I'm not holding my breath that they will ever even try.


Unless a claimant has never, ever filed for SSI before, you end up with tons of major discrepancies from prior claim data that propagates into the current claim filing. Vehicles, bank accounts, property, various types of income of all types like unemployment, worker's compensation, self-employment, wages, etc. Marital issues such as holding out, remarriages, divorces, etc since the prior filing. Those discrepancies just can't be resolved without contact with the claimant, and it is invariably simpler just to interview the claimant in the first place rather than to try to fix such a mess.

Not to mention, you also get situations with couples, or situations with minor children where claims are sharing resource and income data which gets propagated into the current claim and vice-versa. In the end, you have a big, flaming, stinking mess.

The same types of things happen when you file paper deferred applications. For many (not all, but a great many) representatives, their answer to filing for SSI is to take a paper application, answer "No" to all the questions, have the client sign it, and then submit it while calling it an SSI filing. Of course, when the same claimant filed last year or 5 years ago and now has a claim with 5 vehicles, and their name on four different bank accounts, with discrepant out of date income sources, or was holding out with Jane Doe while still being legally married to but separated from Janet Public. Because the rep isn't aware of all of this stuff, the application they end up filing literally isn't worth the paper it is written on.

You get the point. SSI is messy, messy, messy and that is pretty much the nicest thing you can say about it. The agency has spent years trying to design a system for straightforward RIB and DIB claims and still doesn't have it right even now.

SSI onling filing? What a joke of a thought.

Anonymous said...

I see many services offered online that weren't there just six months ago AND there is an SSI online app in the works. I feel confident that SSA will continue to offer more and more online applications in the next year.

Anonymous said...

We have been told that SSI aps are going online later this year. This is why many of the MSSICS screens are now web-based.

7:52 PM above is exactly right. We get a paper ap from a rep alleging no income, no resources. Then we do the PERC and turn out to have all kinds of income and resources that they had all along. Some of the big reps seem to hire very young employees (fresh out of high school or college maybe?) who don't seem to have any idea what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

re 6:24PM,

The new MSSICS screens are web based because it is the easiest thing they can do while claiming to be "redesigning the systems". The problem is, and what they don't tell you as an end user, is that behind those web based screens the agency is still running the original MSSICS screens - the web based screens just reformat the data and stick it into the same old MSSICS screens you used to use. The exact same situtation applies to the new eRPS system -- the old RPS is being used as a back end for it as well. You can't access it, but it is there. Two business days to change an address in eRPS? It took the old RPS two days to process a payee change, too. As a result, the new systems have the same limitations as the ones they purport to replace.

SSA can't replace MSSICS and its ilk on the back end because there are almost no employees left who know how the software works (most of the ones who did are either dead or retired). Often, the contractors have to resort to running known test data through MCS, MSSICS, and RPS just to see what the heck comes out the back end and how it interfaces (or doesn't interface) with other things. It is made about 100% worse by the fact that the developers are separated from SSA's code base - they have to depend up on employees in systems to provide fake records to test on. And a lot of those employees are totally incompetent.

I know I'll be long retired before anything truly new is implemented.