SSA is testing an online app to verify identities

SSA is testing an online app to verify identities

ORLANDO, Fla.'The Social Security Administration has begun testing an online program to authenticate Social Security numbers for employers hiring new workers.

'We will pilot test a Web site where we can find if the SSN is fraudulent and if it belongs to the person,' said William Gray, SSA's deputy commissioner for systems.

The agency test of the application, developed in-house, will involve 10 to 15 employers'government agencies, companies and nonprofit groups.

The agency has not finalized its list of pilot participants, Gray said last month at the Information Processing Interagency Council conference.

Employers who participate will register online with SSA using a personal identification number and password. Users will submit Social Security numbers and other identifying information about prospective employees, which SSA will authenticate.

'It's a delicate process,' Gray said. Before rolling out the application nationwide, the agency will use feedback from the pilot to make any necessary adjustments, he said.

The effort is one of many Internet initiatives at the agency, which is providing more services online because it is 'facing the greatest challenge ever: Baby boomers are entering the disability years,' Gray said.

The agency also stands to lose two-thirds of its IT staff to retirement by 2010 and expects a significant increase in its workload in the next few years.

For instance, SSA foresees a 64 percent jump in veterans' claims by 2010 and an increase in calls to its toll-free number.
Citizens expect SSA to provide quick responses to e-mail and to have its Web transactions online at all times, Gray said.

'They want privacy and security when they interact with us,' he said. 'This requires a fundamental business change.'

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