SSA Advisors Coming to a Screen Near You

The Social Security Administration is considering offering more of the customer services it currently provides at field offices and on its 800 number through videoconference calls with agents that retirees would access through the agency's main webpage, officials said Tuesday.

The agency already has a program where retirees waiting for service at some busy field offices can use that office's videoconference facilities to connect with a representative at a less busy office, Social Security officials told members of its Future Systems Technology Advisory Panel.

The agency also uses videoconferencing to hold internal meetings and for hearings on retirees' disability statuses, they said.

Social Security is in the middle of the pack of federal agencies adopting social networking, Darlynda Bogle, director of the agency's open government office, said.

About 1,000 people subscribe to the agency's Youtube page where it posts commercials boosting its products by retirement-age luminaries such as Patty Duke and Star Trek star George Takei, she said. The agency has about 11,000 fans on Facebook and 2,400 Twitter followers.

The agency is considering dipping its toe into crowd sourcing by asking its website visitors to help translate promotional videos into other languages, she said.

Social Security launched its first iPhone app last week, a highly interactive tool that lists the most popular U.S. baby names going back many years based on Social Security number applications.

The agency's next app will likely be more functional than fun and deal with disability benefits, the agency's Chief Information Officer Frank Baitman said.