Help us Create Open Government Plan 4.0

Business Gears and Success

Social Security is always looking for ways to enhance your access to our information.  We are preparing to publish our fourth Open Government Plan in June. Your input regarding ways to improve our programs and services is invaluable. Our last plan, published in 2014, reflected our commitments to transparency and outlined our efforts. In our 4.0 plan, you will find the milestones from our previous plans as well as our strategies moving forward.

Do you have any suggestions for making our data more transparent? Do you have any bold and innovative ideas for using open government techniques and principles to help improve our services?? Do you know of other federal agencies Social Security should work with, or any initiatives we should consider?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we want to hear from you as we create our Open Government 4.0 Plan!

We encourage you to share your ideas on how we can improve our transparency, participation, and collaboration through our Open Government Plan 4.0 Feedback Process. Once there, you can review our last Open Government Plan and take part in the conversation for the next one!

Social Security is committed to providing you with world-class service. Your feedback is vital to our success. After all, who knows what you need better than you? Share your ideas today!


71 thoughts on “Help us Create Open Government Plan 4.0

  1. I would like to know why we can’t raise the top of social security so every dime that people make pay all their money into the fund? I think this would fix the Social Security money problems! Is the top 19500.00?

    • The maximum earnings being taxed is part of the formula used to max out payments. If there is no cap on the taxes, there’d be no cap on the payouts. A wealthy person could draw 10’s of thousands each month and that would not solve any money problems.

      • I see no reason why the cap on payments and payouts have to be related. I think there should be no cap on payments and a cap on the salary used to calculate Payouts at $100,000.00 in 2016 dollars. If I am making more than that and can’t put some in a private retirement acct I need a financial advisor.

  2. Aloha:
    Can SS simplify Registering or opening an account? I have unsuccessfuly tried twice. Thank you.
    My name is Antonio S Garcia US Army, RetiredL

    • When you or your parents apply for a SS number for you an account is established. I don’t know what other account you are referring to.

    • Hello Antonio. If you are having difficulties with your personal my Social Security account, please call 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. After you hear “Briefly tell me why you are calling,” say “Help Desk” for help with a my Social Security account. Sometimes, it might be best to visit your local Social Security office for further assistance.

  3. Aloha:
    Can SS simplify registering or opening an account for new applicants? I have unsuccessfully tried twice. How can I do it? Thank you.

  4. Why does the government have to take taxes out of SS checks? At one time, they didn’t. Even with two retirement checks, I’m not sure how I am going to live and keep my house.

  5. I think Social Security should be for people that have paid into the program and not be used by others as what we are being given from Social Security is insufficient for living expenses and maintaining our home.

    • SS is for people who have either paid in or their spouse or parents paid in. No one else gets a nickel. You payment is based upon your work history and is meant to only supplement other pensions or savings.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Emma. We appreciate you doing business with us online. We also recommend that you create a my Social Security account, which allows you to review your earnings record, get estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, and show you the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.

  6. Hello,
    My suggestion is for you to try to reach as many people as possible with your crucial message. Every citizen with an email or message account should receive your information.** Some unconventional means might be useful also…for youngsters…how about a SS game or challenge? How about billboards? more TV ads? …and thanks for a great job!

    ** receiving info should be automatic; signup *not* required

    • Thanks for sharing your ideas, Howard! We value your thoughts and will use your suggestions to explore how we can further improve the services we offer. We try hard to provide the best possible service to our customers and your satisfaction is our reward. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

  7. I paid taxes on all my income while working and contributing to Social Security. Now that I am retired, and drawing Social Security, why am I paying taxes again on some of my earnings? This is double taxation. Why can’t my earnings NOT be taxed until I reached the total of my contributions?

    • You may not have to pay any taxes ifthe sum of your adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefit tops $25,000 for individuals and $32,000 for couples, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your Social Security benefit. And if these retirement income sources top $34,000 for individuals and $44,000 for couples, up to 85 percent of your Social Security payments may be taxable. No workers pay income tax on 100 percent of their Social Security retirement benefit under current law. “Increasingly, more people will be paying because the thresholds that are being used are not adjusted for inflation or changes in average wages,”

    • Thank you for your question, Ray. Everyone working in covered employment or self-employment regardless of age or eligibility for benefits must pay Social Security taxes. Also, some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits. For further income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040.

  8. Do away with the sensitive instructions in POMS so that the public has access to all Social Security policy instructions given to Social Security employees.

    • If you do away with sensitive portions of the POMs then the public still does not have access to all information. Nothing is gained.

    • What do you consider sensitive instructions in POMS? Isn’t POMS guidance for state and local government positions? Are you applying that guidance to non governmental entities?

    • A question to ask Sen Schumer. He’s always going on and on about some sort of a cover up or refund on cell phones. Most of what you hear is a scam.

  9. I would like to know if all this talk on the internet and TV about big changes Social Security is going to do on the First of May is true. And if so, what are the changes going to be.

    • It affects those who have not yet filed for SS retirement. For the past 12 years or so one could file for retirement, freeze the application so his wife could draw spousal benefits and when the wife reached full retirement age she could receive her full benefit. This so called “trick” was well known and was explained for free if you contacted SS. Advertisers are going on and on about this now because they can not suck you in to their office or sell you a book about this “secret.” They are losing a cash cow.

    • Thank you for your question, Ramon. You may be referring to “The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (BBA) which was signed into law recently. Section 831 of the BBA eliminates aggressive claiming loopholes related to “deemed” filing and voluntary suspension of benefits. The new law will be implemented on a prospective basis only. Our legislative and policy staffs are diligently working with Congress to analyze the intent of the legislation and update our instructions. Please check back for updates.

      • So no one who works for social security has the answer to this question! Another example of lack of transparency and the taxpayer always gets the short end of the stick. The only reason why the spousal benefit is secret is because of the lack of transparency and simplified information the public can understand about all the benefits available to them through Social Security including the spousal benefit and how it works. The spousal benefits should not be deemed a loophole. Calling it a loophole is another way of taking away money contributed by working Americans to Social Security and limiting the benefit.

  10. I have worked since I was 14. Started paying SS early but never made much money. Later I worked in the school system….have a SMALL PENSION and it ALL goes to Anthem for our BXBS PREMIUMS. I am affected by the GP OFFSET. Fred SS is very small and we are trying to live on that but not for much longer. We have worked at 2 jobs each, raised 3 wonderful children. We are both in our late eighties. Our Maine governor is constantly taking benefits from us. We are very discouraged.
    Can you help us somehow?

  11. There should be a permanent law established to prevent the Government from dipping into the Social Security Funds, Listening to Congress Members who are for the preservation of the Social Security Program, and providing that year end cola as a permanent rule; regardless of which representative has lost his grits.
    There should not be any solid reason for taxing our Social Security Benefits; we worked all our lives, paid into our Social Security accounts, should not have to pay additional taxes.
    Obama recently paid Iran $1.4 Billion American earned, tax paid dollars and there should be no rime or reason acceptable for any such action.
    There should be a National Movement into the preserving the blessings of Social Security we all so dearly pay into every year.
    There are all to many Enron Mentality Type out there just itching to find another way to dip into what ever they can and who cares for the Old Adage work hard, earn your keep, be resourceful; in more Constructive ways for the betterment of our Brothers in kind….

    • The biggest problem is keeping the government solvent. If it’s broke so is SS. COLA’s are based upon inflation. The problem here is the suspicion that the government is manipulating inflation to make it lower than what it really is. SS was not always taxed. A letter in an election year to your representative can’t hurt. The money going to Iran is their own assets which were frozen, there are no tax dollars involved.

      • Surely, SS must have an inkling of how unhappy US citizens are with government being solvent? Our govt gives money away hand over foot to countries who dislike us. They use $$ traveling and having different benefits than citizens. Hefty packages for medical & pensions. They could be kept solvent if they were taxed & had our programs that we are struggling with.

        • Wonderful question Marie, I also think all government employees should pay into social security and quit sending countries money that are going to blow each other up, we fix it and they destroy it!!!!!! Sure seems like a waste to me and what about the homeless here in our own country. Also, I have a complaint on how they figure your benefit amount. I have a son-in-law who barely held a job and I worked 20 yrs at my last job and guess who receives more SS each month. NOT ME

          • Like or not, government employees are covered differently than non-government employees. Are you familiar with the mandatory versus voluntary sections of the Social Security Act? Those sections will give you the information that you need to understand the two types of withholding.

  12. When is somebody getting rid of the GAB it is absolutely killing me, to pay almost the full amount of the medizine like insulin R, $ 1200 for 3 month. Total of payment the gab + the beginning of the year=$.5.800
    Fred Gauer

  13. I served 45 years in serving the United States and now am getting messed over by the United States. I served 25 years in the military and 20 years in civil service. I have ran into 2 very bad situations I do not think is right. After serving and paying Social Security over those 45 years the Social Security rules say unless my wife is a United States Citizen she cannot claim from my Social Security. I think I earned it and my wife should be able to claim it when she turns 65.There are others that have not served and wives have not worked at all and are allowed to draw on their husbands Social Security. Would you please help me with this?

    My second request I am requesting help with is my wife will be able to claim the military SBP but the draw back is Social Security will take out 30% tax on it. I think that is a big exuberant, don’t you.

    Thank you very much for any help you can give me!!

    • Hi David, it seems that you missed our previous response to your questions. Here is the information again: If you qualify for Social Security benefits, your wife may be able to get benefits on your record — see “Benefits For Your Spouse” for eligibility information. She would also have to meet the requirements for non-citizens living in the United States. If you have specific questions, please call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask to speak with one of our representatives, who are available Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Or, you can contact your local Social Security office. For information about the Survivor Benefit Plan or SBP, please contact the Department of Defense.

  14. There are two statements on the site which to me are in conflict. They are: 1) “You should apply for retirement benefits three months before you want your payments to start”; and 2) “How far in advance can I apply for Social Security retirement benefits? You should apply three months before you want your benefits to start.”

    I reach age 70 in April, 2016. I want benefits to start in May, 2016, and an SSA representative told me the May benefit is payable in June, 2016. Do I apply three months before the May benefit start date which would be February, 2016, or do I apply three months before the June payment start date which would be March, 2016? Thank you.

    • You can apply now, in February, but your May payment will not be sent until June. It is not required that you apply that early, but that is the earliest you can apply (3 mos. before).

    • We apologize for the confusion Ellen. Yes, our system is set up to take applications three months in advance. If you want to receive your first payment in June, you should apply during the month of March. Processing your application is quick and payments are set up within days after the information you provide is verified, and your application is approved.
      There are a lot of factors that go into deciding when to retire, the decision on when to file is a personal one. Just a reminder, you can only earn Delayed Retirement Credits if you delay getting your benefit up until age 70.
      You can now apply online, when you are ready, you can complete the online application for Social Security retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. Congratulations and happy retirement!

  15. As American citizen living abroad, I do think will be of great importance for all citizens who live abroad to have access online by allowing us to have account to make any changes for our whereabouts instead of sending letters from abroad about any changes on status. Unfortunately and till now we are not able to have account with social security because we are residing abroad. It makes a lot of sense to get accurate and fast date through secure mailbox as most of the big companies in the United States that allowed that. It is amazing that Social Security Administration allowed Direct Deposit of American citizens who live abroad in most of Europe Countries and Canada but not allowing the citizens to have account to better communicate with Social Security Administration.
    I hope you consider and thank you for your superior services to us for many years.

    • Hi Mohamed. Thank you for using our blog to communicate with us! The “my Social Security” authentication system requires address verification as one of the essential criteria for issuing an account. People with APO/FPO/DPO addresses can create an account overseas, but our system does not support registration and account creation for users with a foreign address yet. For assistance related to your Social Security benefits, please contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. We appreciate your thoughts and will continue our efforts to meet your requirements and expectations in the years to come.

  16. I think it would be beneficial for those people pending SSDI to be able to see where there claim is at during the process, especially once a decision has been made and they are waiting for the award to be processed as this could add considerable time before they actually receive their award monies. Also the ability to print out letters SSA mailed to the claimant at anytime through the website. This would allow claimant’s to print their award letter any time they need to provide a copy to other government agencies or disability carriers.

    • ssdi process,
      CLAIMANT should have the SAME info available to them that DDS staff use in approving/DENYING our ssdi claims.

      i know when i was in this process for 5 yrs. of hell, it was NOT available to me.

      if we COULD READ specific guidelines why they are DENYING our claims, we could get the NEEDED medical documents to process our claims promptly & APPROVED.

      inflammatory ARTHRITIS involving peripheral joints may be associated with disorders such as:, 14.09, 6C, V shows LYME DISEASE but mentioned nothing more to it; NO explanations at all.

      lyme disease needs to be expanded to show ALL vector-borne diseases including:

      22+ OTHER diseases that ticks carry; examples:

      bartonella, babsiosa, erlichia, rocky mtn. spotted fever, mycloplasma, anaplasma, lonestari, bourbon virus, heartland virus, relapsing fever, borrelia myacoti, borrelia MAYONII,
      other strains of borrelia, tularemia, ENCEPHALITIS, neoehrlichiosis, morgellons, RICKETTSIA PARKERI, q fever, tacaribe virus, so-called arenavirus, XMRV, powassan virus, and others i can’t remember the names of.

      after our admin law judge hearings, a tape recording of this meeting should be PROMPTLY sent to the claimant and/or lawyer representing them.

      my 1st one wasn’t; lawyer tried to get it without success; then quit me 4 yrs. into this.

      since he NEVER RECEIVED tape, he didn’t write the requested BRIEF FOR APPEALS COUNCIL, AC.

      AC buried it for 2.5 yrs. in files, then pulled it out finally.

      since there was NO BRIEF from lawyer, they did NOT have to review my 2″ medical files attached to my claim.

      they merely had to read 1st alj’s DENIAL, and stated it was correct WITHOUT looking at my medical records stating otherwise.

      i also tried to get the tape representing myself, but DDS FAILED to provide this to me so i could attempt to write a brief for my 1st case.

      5 yrs. later, i won my 2nd representing myself.

      i used your online files as much as i could on list of adult list of impairments getting the needed numbers to match up with my extensive medical files.

      it took me 7 months to do this type of work and then typing it for 2nd for alj hearing.

      so my and the entire LYME/VECTOR-BORNE/TICK community would like to see these things addressed for our “invisible” diseases that include:

      fibromyalgia pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.

      thank you.

      bettyg, iowa Borrelia/lyme activist
      47 yrs. chronic lyme
      35 yrs. MISDIAGNOSED by 40-50 drs.

    • Thanks for sharing your ideas, MJ! We value your thoughts and suggestions as we look for ways to improve the services we offer. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

  17. There is so many loop holes in the system. They raise the maximum age for social security to 67, but the SSI age of 65 remains the same. If they meet the SSI financial requirements at age 65, then they can collect SSI until they reach their maximum Social Security age of 67 and collect more money. Social Security is going broke with all these loop holes. At least the SSA is finally doing something about the spouse loop holes.

    • Thank you for your comment, Tony. We have strict guidelines that apply to individuals receiving benefits under the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program. First of all, SSI beneficiaries are required to report their income or resources available to them. Also, we conduct “redeterminations” periodically to identify SSI recipients who –at any time- are potentially eligible for any or other Social Security benefits on their own record and the records of others (e.g., spouse’s, widow’s, or childhood disability benefits). If an SSI recipient is insured and qualifies on his or her own record for their own retirement benefit, they are required to apply at age 62. Failure to apply for additional benefits will result in suspension or termination of their SSI benefits. We hope this information is helpful.

  18. As far as myssaaccount online goes,theres not many options that help you. Besides changing your address or direct deposit info all theres really left is to estimate benefits,check earnings statement,print award letter or order a new card. Applying for benefits is a lenghty process and should be shared with each step of the way. Such as which forms,when mailed and return date. Also date and time stamped when they was recieved. Results from Dr appts that were required for you to attend. Mine were sent to my Kaiser Dr who didnt have time to release them to me so i had to submit a request to outside records to release them to me and was denied. Easier to have reviewed them on my account. Should be able to know name of person handling your application. What the status is of your application,and status of SSI. More cooperation between state agencys that depends on decisions made on benefits that change SNAP and Medicaid. More important is information once you are awarded benefits and past due benefits when you shall recieve those benefits once your representative recieves their fees paid to them with amount and when recieved. Which at that time the representative must then send the client an itemized receipt of their services. Many times i have called my local office for answers to my questions,only to leave vmails to my rep and hope for a return call that same day. But more than often the return call comes several days later,when the info im asking about would be more readily available on my account. Thank you.

    • If people saw online that a decision has been made, then they would be calling every day harassing the customer service number that they haven’t received their decision in the mail yet.

      Snap and Medicaid are welfare programs. People want the SSA to spend billions of dollars to make it easier for them to collect welfare.

      SSI is the new welfare. Once the TANF runs out, they make an appointment with the psychiatrist/psychologist complaining about anxiety and depression and collect disability.

    • Thanks for your comment Anita. We value your thoughts and will use your suggestions to explore how we can further improve the services we offer. Please be aware that our official agency responses will always include the Social Security Administration (SSA) seal. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

  19. If you look on the Medicaid website, then you will see that Medicaid is the largest payer for mental health service in the country.

  20. I have tried to help individuals in our agency set up “My Social Security” accounts. I have a BSO account in my and my non-profit agencies name.

  21. My question is can anyone answer this? Why does the SSA say there is no cost of living for millions of seniors. But all the government officials get their cost of living. Why isn’t our cost of living increased by the same method as everyone else’s

  22. Is their an April 30th deadline for SS benefits for folks who are already receiving benefits. Are their any deadlines one should be aware of for this year 2016…Any new laws or policy that will go into effect this year?

  23. A potential fix that I haven’t heard mentioned – end benefit payments to multiple former spouses. In 1935 when the Act was created, it was common for only one household member to be the wage earner – typically the husband. That has shifted. The majority of adults who are able to work, do work. We should earn our own work credits and receive benefits based on that record. Why do I have to pay my taxes to support someone’s former spouse or spouses who may have chosen to not work? I am referring to able bodied adults. Certainly there are exceptions for those who have disabilities.

  24. Hello all, first I would like to say that so far I have had no problems with SS. However I do read this blog to keep current and as of late I have seen many posts regarding some sort of change that is supposedly coming either 23 April or 1 May per this blog? I have not seen nor heard of any changes except on this blog? Not on the news, newspapers or TV or the SS web site? Does anyone else see or read such? Thanks. Happy Day!!!

  25. PLEASE don’t let Trump cut or stop Social Security benefits or any programs. We struggle now trying to make ends meet.

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