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Monday January 3, 2000

Cathy Noe/ John Trollinger

For Immediate Release

410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973


Social Security Online

SOCIAL SECURITY

News Release

Commissioner of Social Security Kenneth S. Apfel Announces Social Security Payments Are Now Signed, Sealed and Delivered

Commissioner of Social Security Kenneth S. Apfel announced today that on the first working day of the year 2000 the Social Security Administration (SSA) is open for business as usual.

"The Social Security Administration entered the new millennium without skipping a beat," Commissioner Apfel said. "Social Security benefit payments are now signed, sealed and delivered." All SSA field offices, teleservice centers and hearing centers--more than 1,300 overall--are operating normally and the Agency's nationwide toll-free telephone service is working and accepting phone calls.

"When I said a few weeks ago that our customers could rely on us in January, just as they've relied on us in the past, I meant it," stated Commissioner Apfel. "And the reports we've been receiving from our offices throughout the country confirm this. They have assured me that the Social Security payments have been delivered through the United States Postal Service and that the banks have received the direct deposits. Field offices are open and operating. Our 800 number telephone service is working, and we are taking calls."

Throughout the weekend, thousands of SSA employees tested and monitored computer systems to ensure that the Agency was prepared to serve the public when offices opened this morning. Extra staff is on hand this week to answer questions and to serve the public.

For SSA, computers play an important role in delivering timely and efficient service to the public. SSA's computer systems process 22 million program transactions daily, its vast computer network also: keeps track of earnings for 145 million working Americans; pays monthly benefits to 50 million individuals; processes 6.1 million new benefit applications each year; responds to 58.8 million telephone inquiries; and issues 16.2 million new and replacement Social Security cards.

SSA has not done it alone. There has been an important Y2K working alliance with the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Postal Service. "I want to thank our partners again for making today - where everything is business as usual - possible. This was no small feat," said Commissioner Apfel. "As promised, even though the century has changed our dependability at Social Security has not."


Copies of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security information and statistics, are available at SSA's Internet site, Social Security Online, at http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/pressrel.htm.

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