Social Security Administration Hits a Home Run with Online Application Services in Spanish
November 18 2011
By Leticia Miranda, Associate Director, Economic Policy Project
I just had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) expanded online services in Spanish. I am impressed with how the SSA improved its Spanish-language website, www.segurosocial.gov, and expanded services to allow online applications for retirement and Medicare benefits in Spanish. The SSA now has what are likely the best online services in Spanish offered by any federal agency.
By making Social Security’s online services and information accessible to the millions of Americans who may need assistance in Spanish, the SSA can communicate accurately and make it easier for people to apply for benefits. The SSA is to be commended for stretching our tax dollars, too, since fewer people applying in person at SSA offices means that fewer staff will be needed to process applications at these offices.
The SSA went the extra mile to support the new online services in Spanish with excellent marketing materials. They enlisted Don Francisco, the popular host of the long-time hit TV show on Univision, Sabado Gigante, to tape public service announcements. His tagline—“¡Es tan fácil!”—translates to “it’s so easy” to do the application online. Click here to see the PSA. These will be broadcast online and on Spanish-language channels throughout the country.
If you are a second-generation Hispanic American like me, you may wonder if our immigrant parents will hesitate to use the Internet to apply for a benefit as important as Social Security. I am sure many will use it. More importantly, their children will be relieved to help parents fill out the application at home instead of having to take time off from work to accompany them to a Social Security office.
It takes as little as 15 minutes to apply for retirement benefits and there are important safeguards in place; if you complete the application on behalf of someone else, the system generates a paper copy and sends the application to the applicant’s home for review and signature before it is considered final.
There are many other Spanish-language resources at www.segurosocial.gov, including the Retirement Estimator, which provides workers with a personalized estimate of future Social Security benefits based on their earnings. Also available is the application for the Extra Help program for low-income seniors who use Medicare for prescription drugs. The Extra Help program can save as much as $4,000 yearly, which is indeed a big help.
Please spread the word in your community about these new services in Spanish. If people do not use them, the federal government may conclude that it is not worth the cost to create services in Spanish. Follow the SSA in Spanish on Facebook and Twitter.
SSA staff recounted the months of effort that it took to upgrade the website and make sure that they used the appropriate terminology in Spanish. SSA worked with a team of translators representing several different dialects of Spanish. They also asked applicants and reviewers from Latino service organizations to test the new service. They got it right: Kudos to the Social Security Administration!
Issues: Retirement Security, Seguro Social, Social Security
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas