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Going digital: SSA's answer to its turbulent future

Although both the disability trust and the old age trust serve different subsets of the population, both are scheduled to run out if Congress does not take action soon. For the old age fund, that deadline is still a ways out. It's not scheduled to run out until 2037. But for beneficiaries of the Social Security Administration's disability fund, time is quickly running out. As we have reported before on this blog, this fund is expected to run out sometime in 2016, which will have a huge impact on beneficiaries.

But it's not just the depletion of funding that has many across the nation, as well as officials at the Administration, concerned. Employee turnover and budget constraints have forced SSA to cut back on face-to-face services in exchange for virtual assistance or forcing people to wait longer for in-person visits. Officials with the Administration know that things will need to change, especially if it wants to continue providing services to those in need.

Even though SSA made a push for a more digital experience in 2012, the Administration's computer infrastructure still lacks the bells and whistles so to speak that Americans are looking for. As a recent Investment News article points out, there are simply some things that Americans want to do with their benefits but can't because there is no option for it online.

Aside from giving applicants access to all benefit options, SSA also needs to make sure that its infrastructure is accessible across all digital formats. Though older Americans may still be using desktop computers, younger generations rely more on their mobile devices. For them, access to their benefits or open claims can be challenging because of the limitations of the online system.

If SSA plans on "embrac[ing] technological enhancements," as Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin stated in a press release in May, then it will need to also bolster security, especially after the most recent cyberattacks on government websites. This will take time though, which is why our readers shouldn't be expecting any immediate changes anytime soon.

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