My Reflections on Public Service

December 28, 2015 • By

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Last Updated: December 28, 2015

Commissioner_Carolyn_Colvin_5x7As we culminate our 80th anniversary celebration and end 2015, I find myself reflecting on our accomplishments. As part of the recognition of our 80th anniversary celebration, we asked our employees to share their stories of why they serve. A recurring theme was: I serve because I enjoy working with the public providing services that matter. Touched by this sentiment, I also looked back over my career and the reasons why I serve.

I have said many times that Social Security touches the lives of nearly everyone in this great nation, often during times of personal hardship, transition, and uncertainty. I’m not only speaking as the Acting Commissioner of Social Security but as someone who has also been on the receiving end. In several instances, Social Security provided support for members of my family.

When my brother was diagnosed with a disability, Social Security provided him the financial and medical support to live independently. Today, I am grateful my brother has a decent quality of life because of the benefits he receives and his access to healthcare. When my mother was ill in her later years, her retirement benefits, and support from our family helped to cover her living expenses and healthcare. The help she received from our agency enabled her to have a good quality of life.

I also felt the support of the SSA family when my son died at 34, leaving behind four small children. The agency embraced me in ways I cannot describe and helped me through a very difficult time in my life. Survivor benefits provided strong financial support for his children after the devastating loss of their father.

I have worked in public service for many years. Throughout my entire career, I have never seen employees provide services in a more caring and compassionate way than our employees. During my tenure as Acting Commissioner of Social Security, I have given many 30-, 40-, and 50-years of service pins to employees who dedicated their entire careers to public service. I know that these employees stayed that long because of a strong commitment to our mission.

Throughout my career, I have been drawn to serve those who have the least among us. From seeing the support my family received, to feeling passionate about helping others going through similar experiences, I cannot be more proud to have served SSA twice in my career.

Social Security is here today and will be here in the future. From retirement to disability, Social Security is there, providing benefits to children and families, and protection for the American worker. Our services matter. The work we do makes a difference in the lives of Americans, when they need it the most.

And this, I am proud to say, is why I serve.

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About the Author

Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security

Acting Commissioner of Social Security (February 14, 2013 - January 20, 2017)


  1. Brenda

    I want to find a freind who died in Granada. How do i go about it? Without getting scammed by these searches online lie give a different name than try to charge me for it. It’s unconstitutional. For these fradulant lying serches. IT IS Dispictable, dishonorable, disgraceful. It certainly is intolerable to disrespect someone whom is no longer with us dying for trying to make a scam. There must be a goverment site to find our fallen Soldiers. Semper Fi John. Sincerely, Brenda.

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  3. Jamie d.

    I am trying to check the status on a check that is owed to me from when my mom passed away on June 9

    • Ray F.

      Hello Jamie. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please continue working with your local office. If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks!

  4. ddxaxe

    I use to book my bus online in sri lanka.

  5. Fredrick P.

    How would I go about filing my mothers social security when she passed?

  6. Martha C.

    After enrolling in Medicare part A and B I have received a letter from my local SSA that makes no sense to me. On top of it I am asked to and I quote: “Please have your employer complete the enclosed form and return it to Social Security in the enclosed envelope by December 23, 2017”. The letter arrived at my door on December 18, 2017 without any form nor enclosed envelope inside and I am asked to respond by December 23, 2017 or my premium will be increased. Is this a trick to make me pay more? When I tried to call 1-800-772-1213 I was told by the recorded voice that SSA was busy and to call again later. When I called my local SS office at 1-866-328-1254 my phone call was rerouted to the National SSA number that was 1-800-772-1223 and I was at it again. How can a person make sense out of that I have no idea. The system is supposed to help not to confuse.
    I am extremely disappointed.

  7. dani

    ” She submitted a suit against Pfizer in the Usa Area Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in April 2013. ”

  8. Stephen

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  9. Cheryl L.

    I cannot believe how long it is taking to get my money since my approval. This is not a handout, I’ve paid into social security all my life. It took almost 3 years to get a hearing which was favorable. Now its been more than 6 weeks and still no payment. How long do they think we can wait. Losing utilities, no money for anything essential. This wait is ridiculously long. They seem to have time for social media but no time or enough employees to get us paid. I find it to be terrible that Americans are put through this trauma of waiting. Shame on Social Security. They have no problem or delay taking your money, just paying you what is owed to you. Horrible injustice.

    • Ray F.

      We are sorry for the inconveniences Cheryl. We attempt to resolve all claims promptly, but there may be delays due to the high volume of pending cases in our payment centers. Please continue working with your local office in this matter. For specific questions about your situation, call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Our representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks.

      • Martha C.

        I tried and tried again and this phone number does not get you anywhere. Just a waste of time.

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