Social Security Announces That It Is Beginning to Take Applications On-Line

The Social Security Administration, envisaging the near-future prospect of 10,000 baby boomers applying for benefits every day for the next 20 years, has put together a new on-line service that will allow people to get their benefits without ever traveling to a Social Security field office.

“We have nearly 80 million baby boomers coming in,” Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue told The Associated Press. “We just don’t have the infrastructure to handle that workload in the traditional fashion.”

The agency, in introducing the program this past Tuesday, said most people will be able to apply for their retirement or disability benefits 0n-line in 15 minutes or less. Astrue said a person who now goes to a Social Security office to apply spends about 45 minutes consulting with a field officer.

Commissioner Astrue said that the agency had completely overhauled its electronic services in recognition of the greater computer skills of future Social Security recipients and the need to more efficiently process the coming flood of applications. “We redid it from scratch. It’s easier to use, it’s faster,” Astrue said.

David Certner, AARP’s legislative policy director, said the new program was “a nice tool, particularly as more people are more comfortable with using the computer and the Internet.” But he cautioned that there is still a fairly large portion of the population that is not computer literate, and “we don’t want it to substitute for the ability to deal with a real person.”

Astrue also gave assurances that people with more complicated applications or questions can still call the agency or visit a field office.

The agency has had versions of on-line applications since 2000, but in the past applicants have still had to mail or deliver paper documents with their signatures and copies of birth certificates or W-2 forms. The new on-line program has no paper forms to sign and usually requires no additional documents.

Those wanting to use the new program can go to Social Security Online – The Official Website of the U.S. Social Security Administration and click on “Filing Online for Retirement Benefits.”

To learn more about Social Security’s online services, go to Social Security-Online Services.

Source: Associated Press