Social Security Administration:

Many Letters Difficult to Understand

T-HEHS-94-126: Published: Mar 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the clarity of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) written correspondence, focusing on whether SSA correspondence: (1) is generally understood by the public; and (2) adequately explains the basis for SSA decisions. GAO noted that: (1) SSA correspondence letters are computer generated; (2) SSA has had longstanding problems communicating the basis for its eligibility determinations and benefit adjustments; (3) although SSA recently implemented actions to revise its communication standards, many letters continue to be difficult to understand; (4) SSA communication standards do not address problems such as the lack of details to support SSA decisions or the illogical order of information; and (5) SSA needs to establish overall communication objectives, identify customer preferences, and measure its progress toward achieving such objectives.

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