Social Security Administration aims to improve service in 2014

According to the Social Security Administration, its customer service satisfaction is very high. Others may disagree, especially Social Security Disability benefits applicants who are initially denied benefits and must wait at a minimum several months, and often more than a year, in order to obtain a hearing to argue their case before an administrative law judge.

The SSA is attempting to improve upon its customer service in 2014. Laura Rogers, a District Manager for the SSA, recently wrote an article for SI Live claiming that "we . . . continue to rank high in customer service satisfaction and have the best online services in government, providing the best service to those who come to us for help." As an example of the transition to online transactions, Rogers points out that the SSA will no longer provide benefit verification letters through local offices; instead, SSA benefit letters can be accessed online or by calling the SSA.

In its annual performance plan, the SSA indicated four areas it seeks to improve upon in fiscal year 2014:

  • Deliver better quality disability decisions.
  • Provide quality services.
  • Preserve the public's trust.
  • Strengthen the SSA's workforce and infrastructure.

The SSA has listed several specific goals for 2014. The SSA will attempt to minimize the average wait time from hearing requests to a decision to 387 days. This is a longer timeframe than the SSA's goal in 2013, but perhaps more realistic. The SSA also intends to:

  • Answer its National 800 number within 500 seconds of a person calling.
  • Complete just under 3 million initial disability claims within the fiscal year.
  • Increase the number of claims filed online by 50 percent.
  • Shift to more secure, online transactions to streamline the application process.

SSDI applications still complicated

While the move to more online-based services may save some time and allow better access for applicants to track their claims and ask questions, an application to obtain Social Security Disability benefits is still complicated and lengthy. The majority of initial applications for SSDI are rejected and require an appeal. Administrative law judges have an intense workload, despite the SSA recently limiting the number of cases a judge can hear in one year. That is why it is important SSDI applicants obtain the help of an experienced SSDI benefits attorney to discuss their options, gather appropriate documentation regarding their disability and present their case to the best possible extent to the SSA.