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Social Security Administration addressing ‘deficiencies’ in handling mail during pandemic, says government watchdog report

Valerie Macon | AFP | Getty Images

Shuttered Social Security offices boosted mail volume

Backlog held up key documents, slowed applications

Replacement Social Security cards were also held up, with one card center having more than 9,000 unprocessed applications, last year’s report found.

The mail backlog affected the tracking and return of original documents, such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports and naturalization documents provided as proof for Social Security cards or benefit eligibility.

Other issues included large quantities of undeliverable mail, original documents stored in unsecure locations, backlogs of unprocessed applications for new or replacement Social Security cards, and remittances or unnegotiated benefit checks.

Notably, the Office of the Inspector General’s observations were based on visits to select offices. It has not revisited those locations to make sure the mail backlogs have been processed or to verify that the new mail procedures are working.

The Social Security Administration reported about 99% of its offices were meeting new timeliness guidelines to better manage its mail workload as of January. However, members of the National Council of Security Management Associations have reportedly expressed concerns that those timeliness guidelines may adversely affect other workloads.

“We are pleased that SSA has reportedly improved some of the issues identified in our interim report and hope that SSA continues to improve its handling of documents and mail processing,” Gail S. Ennis, inspector general for the Social Security Administration, said in a statement.

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