When you think of the innovative companies behind your favorite smartphone apps, chances are you don’t think of the Social Security Administration. But with the recent launch of the SSA’s “Baby Name Playroom” app, the association of the two is destined to be more common. This, along with the administration’s presence on popular sites such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, is a small example of the SSA’s increasing interest in finding new ways of using technology to become more efficient and client-friendly.
Since the start of the Social Security Administration in the late 1930s, the government has amassed a huge database of baby names, put on file when parents apply for Social Security cards for their babies. The free smartphone app they have created allows users to search names based on past popularity and current trends, play baby name trivia games, list and share favorite name lists, and more. While the app may seem trivial, it is also a venue for the SSA to share information with parents about disability programs for infants and children, as well as how to enroll babies in Social Security.
Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular in a generation that is always on the go and wants to be connected to the world around them, and they are therefore a great tool to spread awareness. After the SSA’s lighthearted introduction to the world of smartphone apps, new projects will probably be more related to services offered by its various programs.
Smartphone apps are not the only way the SSA is stepping into the 21st century. Due to the high volume of disability claims they process every year, the SSA has been feeling increasing pressure to streamline their application and interview process. In the past, retirees and disability applicants have had to wait in long lines at offices or sit at their phones on hold in order to talk with a SSA representative. Within recent years, more and more of the SSA’s services are being offered online, a step which has already made a positive impact on both case volume and client satisfaction. An example of this is the Electronic Disability Folder.
One of the most recent technological improvements to the disability application process is the implementation of videoconferencing within some of the Social Security field offices. When local ODAR offices are experiencing a high volume of cases, clients and their representatives are allowed to use videoconferencing equipment to contact another office that will be able to assist them sooner.
The SSA is considering the major step of making videoconferencing technology available on their website for services that are normally provided only in offices or over the phone. This would greatly reduce congestion in the offices while catering to the convenience of applicants.
Whether the Baby Name Playroom application is truly useful to claimants, we feel that it is indicative of a positive trend within the Social Security Administration to become increasingly felt in the wireless and digital realm as it strives to interact more effectively with its clients and improve its services to present and future generations.