A little over thirty years ago, my wife and I lived in apartment in a suburb of a large city. We lived about half a mile from a corner strip mall which was anchored by a large supermarket at one end and an office building at the other. We would often walk to the supermarket on warm evenings.
One of the storefronts down a few doors from the market was a Social Security Administration office. One of the times we walked to the market, we stopped at the SSA office, which was closed, and looking in through the glass front door. I could see row after row of of ugly gray government-style desks, all facing front. I didn’t count them, but there were easily sixty or seventy of them in view.
I remember saying to my wife, “I wonder what it is they do in there that requires so many employees.” Two or three years after this I was hired by another Social Security office, which at the time had about 105 employees, about the same number as the office we had looked into. I quickly found out what it was they did that required so many employees. They did a lot, and still do.
My Purposes For This Blog Are:
1. To discuss Social Security benefits and programs, their rules, eligibility criteria, and related issues that might be of interest current beneficiaries and recipients, or those who will be in the future. These benefits and programs include, but are not limited to:
a. Social Security Retirement and Survivors Benefits
b. Social Security Disability Benefits
c. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
d. Social Security And SSI Work Incentives Programs
2. To keep track of current issues, primarily political, that may have an affect on the current Social Security Administration, or what may happen to it in the future.
3. To answer specific questions from anyone about SSA benefits and programs, problems or concerns they may have, or anything else Social Security related. Please refer to the Contact Me page.
4. To explore and explain other government programs that Social Security beneficiaries might have to deal with, and
5. To share stories about interesting people I met during my career at Social Security
I was hired by SSA as a service representative (SR) in 1981. A SR is the person you first talk to when you call or go into an SSA office (or call the 800 number for that matter.) SRs have to know something about everything that SSA does. They process Social Security Number applications. They answer questions about Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicare, and input some post-entitlement changes, such as changes of address, direct deposit, or death of a beneficiary, among many others.
After a little over a year, I was promoted to be a claims representative (CR). CRs process initial claims for Social Security (also known as Title 2 (T2)) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (also known as Title 16 (T16)) payments. CRs also process complex T2 post-entitlement and T16 post-eligibility issues. CRs are usually trained only in one program, but are given crossover training in the other program. I was trained in Title 16 (SSI). I worked as a T16 CR for about 2 1/2 years. I was then made the T16 Quality Reviewer, which entailed reviewing the work of all T16 CRs in the office and providing frequent training to them on SSI issues causing quality problems. I was the district liaison for all work incentive issues.
In 1989, I was promoted to be an operations supervisor(OS) in another office. That particular office was divided into two units, initial claims and post-eligibility. I supervised the latter unit, which was comprised of the SRs and about half of the T16 CRs. I held this job until 1997, when I was transferred to another, larger office. I supervised the T16 CRs who handled post-eligibility actions there. After about 2 years, I left management and became the T16 Technical Expert for the district. I provided technical assistance to all employees on difficult T16 issues and worked on initial claims and post-eligibility actions myself. While in this position, I taught a T16 CR class for new CRs. I was also the district liaison for all work incentive issues.
Throughout the majority of my career, I did a lot of community outreach regarding T2 and T16, and their work incentive programs. This involved speaking to groups from other government agencies or private social agencies, and to groups of beneficiaries, and in some cases, their families.
I retired from SSA in 2003 after 22 years service with them.
Note: I was formerly affiliated with a discussion forum, on which I had a column devoted to Social Security articles and information, essentially the same as this blog. I removed all articles I had written on Social Security and have severed all connection with this discussion forum.
My wife was employed by the Internal Revenue Service for many years, which is the basis for her user name. She also worked in the private sector, mainly in the insurance and financial fields. She is my consultant for tax and business related issues. She is the comment moderator for the blog and decides which comments meet blog standards. She has been my silent partner on the blog until now. Up until recently, we have received relatively few comments. Lately, they have increased, and we have begun getting comments from people who are hostile either toward Social Security or to other commenters. She has agreed to help me by dealing with these inappropriate comments, which I appreciate very much. Her duties at IRS have given her a lot of experience dealing with hostile people.