SSA Unveils New “Open” Initiatives

April 12, 2010 ( – The Social Security Administration has unveiled a series of new initiatives that should make it easier to find information about retiring and benefits.  

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, has announced that the initiatives are part of the agency’s Open Government plan.  Three flagship initiatives highlighted are the Spanish-Language Retirement Estimator, Online Service Enhancement, and an Online Life-Expectancy Calculator.  According to a press release, these initiatives support the agency’s mission, goals, and objectives, as well as showcase the value of open government principles.     

Social Security’s Spanish-language Retirement Estimator will be the agency’s and the federal government’s first-ever non-English interactive Internet application.  A press release says that it will offer the Spanish-speaking public an opportunity to get instant, personalized estimates of future retirement benefits.  Last year, over three million people used the English-language version of this popular online service available at, according to the announcement.

As part of its Online Service Enhancement initiative, Social Security will also unveil a new service-channeling tool that will “help people more easily find the information and services they seek on the agency’s website (”  According to the announcement, a key feature will be the opportunity to go online to schedule an in-office appointment for those who are unable to use online services to conduct all of their business.  “This idea was submitted by Christie Dickson, an employee of Social Security, and was one of the finalists for the President’s SAVE award,” according to the press release.  In developing this tool, the agency says it will collaborate with members of the public as well as with industry experts.

The agency also is developing an Online Life-Expectancy Calculator.  “Many people substantially underestimate life expectancy, and this new online service will add a measure of accuracy to retirement planning by providing average life expectancies at different ages based on the person’s gender and date of birth, and drawing on assumptions provided in the annual Social Security Trustees’ report,” according to the announcement.

Social Security encourages feedback on its Open Government plan.  To view the plan and share your comments and ideas, please visit