my Social Security National Conference Call With Advocates —
Recorded January 16, 2013
Speaker: Good day, everyone, and welcome to the my Social Security national conference call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time I am pleased to turn the conference over to Kojuan Almond, Associate Commissioner for the Office of External Affairs. Please go ahead.
Kojuan Almond: Thank you so much. Good afternoon, everybody. First let me start by thanking all of you for taking time out of what I know is a crazy busy day to be part of this very important conference call. One of the main goals of this call is to provide you with information you need to tell your constituents about the enhanced services available through my Social Security account. On January 7th, the Social Security Administration announced the expanded use of online services that are available when you sign up for a my Social Security account. People of all ages can use this personalized online account starting in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits. During today's call, you're going to hear from some of our subject matter experts who will explain various aspects of the online services that will be available when you sign up for an account. Darrick Jones and Jeffrey Walsh of our Office of Electronic Services are here to highlight key services and the authentication and registration process. After that, I've got my colleague, Laura Train, who is the Associate Commissioner in the Office of Communications, Planning, and Technology, and she's going to cover the publications and marketing materials that the agency has developed to spread the word about my Social Security accounts. Then to close out the call, I'll come back, and I'm going to share a bit of information with you about marketing and outreach strategies, and those are the things that we will use and that you can use to ensure that the American public knows about all the great new services now available online. So, with that, let's get started, and I'm going to turn it over to Darrick and Jeffrey. Take it away.
Darrick Jones: Great. Thanks, Kojuan, and good afternoon, everybody. Kojuan just provided an overview of the my Social Security account system. What I'm going to do is talk about the services that are within my Social Security. The first service made available to the public on my Social Security was the Social Security Statement. It was released to the public on May 1st, 2012. The Statement provides individuals with secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information, and it provides estimates of future benefits they can use to plan for their retirement. The online Statement also provides estimates for disability and survivors benefits, making the Statement an important financial planning tool. The user has the ability to view, print, and save their Social Security Statement. Over 5.4 million online Statements have been accessed since the service became available to the public on May 1st, 2012. The next service is the benefit verification letter. The benefit verification letter serves as proof of income to do things such as securing loans, mortgages, and other housing, as well as state and local benefits. Additionally, people use the letter to prove current Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status, and age. Now, more than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, recipients can instantly access their benefit verification letter online. The user also has the ability to view, print, and save this document, as well. The new online services allow people to conduct business at Social Security without having to visit an office, or to make a phone call, excuse me, or to wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. Over 60,000 people have viewed their benefit verification letter online since it became available to the public on January 7th, 2013. The next service is check your benefits. Those individuals who receive Social Security benefits can access their benefit information using their online account. That is to say they can, excuse me, view their benefit payment types and next benefit payment amount and schedule. Additionally, they can view their payment history for the last 24 months, view overpayment balance information, if there is any, and view a breakout of their last benefit payment. The last service or services that are offered are change of address and direct deposit. Those who receive Social Security benefits can view their contact information. But who can actually update their address and direct deposit information online? People receiving Social Security, that is retirement, survivors, and disability benefits, and those enrolled in Medicare can use the my Social Security application to change their address and other contact information, such as address, telephone number, and payment method information. This service, however, is not currently available to people who receive Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. However, for those folks who do receive SSI, they can still check the address we have on record for them through their my Social Security account. We've been getting great feedback from the public. So far, over 3 million people have created a my Social Security account so far. To access these services, the user must set up a my Social Security account, which requires them to answer personal questions to verify their identity before choosing a user name and password. People age 18 or older can sign up for an account at: www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount And we recommend that those of you listening today take a few minutes to create your own account online if you have not already done so. So, at this time, I'd like to turn it over to Jeffrey Walsh who is going to talk about the registration process.
Jeffrey Walsh: Thank you, Darrick. All of the items mentioned by Darrick are possible due to a new Internet authentication process developed for the public that issues, via registration, a single user name and password for logon. This password offers multiple authentication options that meets the needs of the public, and it offers an in person registration process for those who are unable to register via the Internet, while balancing security with the ease of use. We provide computer security information and links for users to help them stay safe online. We also provide informational links from our registration pages that help people understand what we are collecting and how we use that to verify their identity. We collect identifying information and use Social Security and Experian records to verify the user's identity. Examples of data collected include name, SSN, date of birth, and address. We have much of this information in our own master files. If we cannot verify the address internally, we send the name, date of birth, and address to Experian for verification of address. We never share the Social Security Number with Experian. Individuals who are unable to complete the registration process online can present identification at a field office to register for a user ID. Examples of ID documents we accept are a driver's license and a state ID card. Once the user is registered, we send both an email and a mailed notice to their verified address. The user self selects a user name and password. A password strength indicator is provided to help the user select a strong password, and we will not let them create a weak password. Additionally, the user is asked to choose challenge questions and responses for restoring a lost or forgotten user name or password. For those who are victim of identity theft or domestic violence, or simply uneasy with online business, we offer two options for safety and security. We offer the ability to block electronic access to your SSN if you are concerned that someone will attempt to access your personal information via SSA's website. We also offer up an extra security account. If the user opts for extra security, we collect additional identifying information and mail a one time use code to the user's verified address. When the user receives this code in the mail, he or she can enter this code online to enhance the security of their account. When the user logs in with the code, he or she will be asked to enter a cell phone number and will receive a confirmation text message. All of these services are available at: www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount And now I will turn it over to Laura Train.
Laura Train: Hi, good afternoon. Thank you, Jeffrey. My name is Laura Train, and I am Associate Commissioner for the Office of Communications, Planning, and Technology, and I am here today to talk with you about some of the my Social Security products we developed to help you support your constituents. I am pleased to announce that today we implemented a brand new website to support advocates in learning about and spreading the word about my Social Security. We'll continue to add useful information to this website. Our current features include: Important information about my Social Security and the services that are available; Our press release announcing the new online services available with a my Social Security account; Our Dear Colleague letter. We also have my Social Security Facebook and Twitter posts that you can use as part of your social media marketing campaign. We also will provide a link where you can ask for a speaker from Social Security to come and speak about my Social Security. Of course this is subject to budget considerations. We also have some very helpful materials for you. You can use these to help support us as we spread the word. Our own employees are also using these. First, we have a fact sheet titled "How to Create an Online Account". This new fact sheet provides step by step instructions on how to create an account through my Social Security, and the reverse side explains how to get a benefit verification letter. We also provide pertinent screen shots as a visual. Second, we have a flyer designed specifically to provide information for advocates, social service agencies, and other third parties to help them get benefit verification letters from their clients easily. This is titled "The Fastest Way to Verify Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Benefits". This flyer describes how using my Social Security to obtain benefit verification is good customer service, because clients don't have to travel to a Social Security office or wait for a verification letter in the mail anymore. And the online benefit verification letter is available instantly for viewing, printing, or even saving for later use. On the reverse side of the flyer is a sample benefit verification letter. We also have two posters available. The website provides you with instructions on how to order them. You will receive a link to this new website after the call. We hope you'll find this website and all the marketing materials available on the site easy to use and useful as you help us spread the word about my Social Security.
Kojuan Almond: Wow, thanks Laura, and thanks Jeff, and thanks Darrick. I wanted to take a minute now to talk with you a little bit about our marketing and outreach strategy. My office is the Office of External Affairs, and we're responsible at the national level for promoting key agency initiatives like my Social Security. We do that through building coalitions and maintaining relationships with key national organizations and advocacy groups, like the ones you all represent. You play a critical role in the work we do to serve the American public. So we would like your help in spreading the word about the advantages of our online services. As you've heard, now people can immediately request and receive benefit verification letters online, access their payment histories and earnings records, start or change their direct deposit information, and also change their addresses by establishing a my Social Security account. When we sent a Dear Colleague letter to over 12,000 of you that included a sample Facebook and Twitter post, we wanted to encourage you to place that on your own websites. We also ask that you place drop in articles on the my Social Security account in your newsletters, magazines, and newspapers to help us spread the word. If you or your affiliates would like to request a speaker from the Social Security Administration to come out and talk to large groups about the my Social Security account, you can do that online by going to: http://www.ssa.gov/organizations
We have Regional Public Affairs Specialists and employees from our nearly 1,300 community based field offices that can work to accommodate your request, and of course that is subject to the availability of resources, because our agency continues to be in budget constraints. So, in closing, I want to share that I hope that this afternoon's conference call gave you all the information you need to understand our new and existing my Social Security account online services. What we shared with you today about the authentication process, how to register, the available services, and the marketing products, will hopefully provide enough information for you to go out and spread the word about the my Social Security account with your respective audiences. We believe that our online services will save time and be much more convenient for the people who use them. And we also believe that expanding our service options online reinforces our commitment to provide the highest level of customer service to the American public. If you have ideas or recommendations on how we might more effectively promote my Social Security, I invite you to share your thoughts with me in an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to close the call by thanking all of you again for taking time out of your very busy day to spend with us. We will share website information and put in an email all of the web links that we've talked to you about today after the call. And I want to close by saying how much we appreciate your support, and we look forward to interacting with you as we continue our promotion of the my Social Security online account services. Thanks so much and enjoy the rest of your day.
Speaker: Thank you. That does conclude today's teleconference. We do thank you all for your participation.