Over the years the SSA has evolved it's computer programs to allow the claims representatives to meet the needs of the citizens of the United States. With each new program comes a set of rules and guidelines that must be followed. The problem is that the many different programs are not cohesively connected. As it is right now, I have to open and close well over a dozen programs/windows to get a comprehensive look at a persons insured status and history, etc. And unfortunately, the bulk of the screens we stare at all day are still in MS Dos format, which is deteriorating my eyesight.
So, my first suggestion is to create a user friendly intranet based mainframe program that serves as central base for each Social Security Number.
One that looks just like a web page and has everything we need on the SSN and it's history with the ability to file a new application down the left side and with tabs that open up across the top as we need to open programs. It can be done. It needs to be done.
Okay, I know that's not an inexpensive, fast or easy change but desperately needed to cut time, errors and the vision of the 60,000 SSA employees.
Along simpler lines,for a quicker way to save money, I suggest we eliminate the "Privacy Act" piece of paper that must be printed and mailed out with a variety of forms that are filled out during the application process. We actually waste a piece of paper to tell disability applicants that there is a law requiring us to save paper. Millions of these papers go out weekly across the country to people who have much bigger issues than reading about how we are saving paper by sending them an unnecessary piece of paper with almost every form they fill out.
Another simple suggestion regarding paper waste is that since many of the 15-25 windows or programs that we have to open automatically print out the screen without giving us the option to suppress the printing. For example, when a person files an appeal we automatically receive in the printer a transmittal sheet that may have been purposeful back in the day before SSA started using electronic storage of documents. The transmittal sheet is no longer necessary and there is no way for us to not print it. So, for every appeal filed in this country, there is at least one wasted page that goes out for every attorney and number holder. As our advances in programming have evolved, quite a few of the older programs waste an unbelievable amount of paper that we would like to be able to stop, but have no control over.
Another simple suggestion would be to adjust the spacing on a program that prints out every Title II Retirement, Survivors, Disability Insurance Receipt. By adding two line spaces in the appropriate place, the address of the claimant would actually fall in the the window of the envelope. As it is, every single Title II receipt has to be folded three times in order to get it to fit the address in the window. That is a considerable waste of time. Collectively, there would be a huge sigh of relief from every Title II rep and the people who have to unfold and store these unprofessionally folded receipt letters documenting the last 40 years of their work history. SSA looks bad and Americans just shake their heads. Believe me, I here about it from plenty of newly retired folks.
In conclusion, programming in the ability to choose whether or not to print certain documents, not sending out a whole page to talk about how were suppose to save paper, and altering a few line spaces would save countless hours of time, a forest of paper, and a whole lot of tax payer money.
As far as wishing for a user-friendly, common sense approach to our SSA mainframe... well that's just a dream from a girl who spent 20 years in front of professional user-friendly programs and never had to buy a pair of glasses. Less than two years staring MS-DOS screens at SSA and I'm wearing glasses.
Thank you very much for this forum. If any of the ideas are accepted, the tiny little Eureka, California office of the SSA will be extremely proud.