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SSA’s Vision 2025 Report Emphasizes Technology

2015 April 28
by Steve Perrigo

The Social Security Administration (SSA) yesterday announced the official release of its Vision 2025 plan, which places strong emphasis on the use of technology to modernize the agency. According to SSA, “the vision will serve as a ‘North Star’ to guide Social Security and show how the agency will accomplish and deliver three key priorities: superior customer experience, exceptional employees, and an innovative organization over the next decade and beyond.”

Last year, concerns were raised that the SSA planned to close field offices nationwide and focus on a virtual service model. In this plan, however, options for interacting with agency staff include visiting local field offices, along with telephone, self-service, and real-time video or chat.

The plan highlights “customer-centric technology” and “first contact resolution,” with an emphasis on encouraging more people to use their my Social Security account for assistance.

Electronic medical records, online SSDI claim tracking, and video hearing technology are cited as tools that can accelerate the disability determination process. For example, the plan states being able to access and use electronic medical records could result in disability decisions being made as quickly as within one day.

Specific tools cited in the Vision 2025 appendix include: Electronic Claims Analysis Tool (eCAT), Electronic Bench Book (eBB) and iAppeals technology. All have been mentioned previously by SSA Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin as important to the SSDI program’s efficiency.

Familiar initiatives include: Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) and Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI) units to address fraud, as well as the Disability Case Processing System, an ongoing project that received scrutiny last fall for its expense and delays. The DCPS is expected to replace 54 IT systems at state Disability Determination Services (DDS) units.

Key challenges cited in the Vision 2025 report include continued constrained federal budgets, outdated technology, complex programmatic policies and procedures, and the pending loss of institutional knowledge as an estimated 50 percent of the SSA’s workforce will be eligible to retire in two years.

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