Friday, September 2, 2016

SSA Cell Phone Policy Canceled

SSA
The Social Security Administration (SSA) attempted to make cell phones a necessity for those who receive benefits, but that plan seems to have backfired. Last month, the SSA announced that everyone with an online “mySocialSecurity” account, would need a cellular phone so that they could get security code text messages for logging into their account, The New York Times reports. And, as you might imagine, older Americans were not happy with the administration's new protocol, forcing the SSA to end the new cell phone policy.

“Our aggressive implementation inconvenienced or restricted access to some of our account holders,” said agency spokesman, Mark Hinkle. “We are listening to the public’s concerns and are responding by temporarily rolling back this mandate.” 

People who receive SSA benefits are able to log on to mySocialSecurity to manage their benefits, or make changes (i.e. selecting a bank account for automatic deposit), according to the article. Under the now rescinded plan, in order to log in online a text message security code would be sent to the beneficiaries' cell phones. An extra level of security, probably for the prevention of fraud or unauthorized access. While this is the 21st Century, and most Americans have cell phones, many older adults still use “landlines”—which cannot receive text messages.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, chairwoman of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, and Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, the ranking minority member, wrote to the SSA about the new policy, the article reports. They expressed that methods for stronger fraud protection “must be considered relative to the needs and circumstances of the target population.” 

“The new policy puts a high burden on American seniors, many of whom may not own a cellphone.” 

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California who focuses her practice as a Social Security Disability advocate.

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