Advancing Equity at SSA

Our mission is to ensure equity and accessibility in delivering Social Security services by improving the customer experience and addressing systemic barriers to participation in our programs.

We are committed to administering our programs in a way that promotes equity by eliminating barriers to participation in our programs, reaching out to people who may be underserved, and improving service delivery.

SSA Equity Action Plan 2023 Update

SSA has identified five focus areas for our Equity Action Plan 2023 Update through internal assessments, feedback from program offices, engagement with local communities via outreach events, existing evidence, and more. SSA will engage the public on these action areas throughout the year and beyond.

  1. Improve access to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for women, families, individuals from underserved communities, and other people facing barriers.
  2. Improve equity in access to our programs for our customers who communicate primarily in languages other than English.
  3. Reduce pending SSI underpayments to improve equity in the delivery of payments to our customers disproportionately affected by poverty.
  4. Increase awareness of survivors benefits eligibility for children and families, same-sex couples, and people disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
  5. Increase race and ethnicity data collection to further identify, monitor, and address service inequities.
Read our Equity Action Plan 2023 Update

Our progress delivering on equity since our first Equity Action Plan in 2022

We released our first Equity Action Plan in April 2022, supporting President Biden’s whole-of-government equity agenda to advance equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity for all. Our Equity Action Plan will help to reduce systemic barriers and ensure people have access to our programs and services.

Read our 2022 Equity Action Plan

Established the Office of Transformation (OT), which includes our Customer Experience (CX) team

The OT's mission is to facilitate the most critical business enhancements that serve the public and support our frontline employees. The mission is underpinned by CX to ensure equitable access to SSA's programs by providing a fair, equitable, accessible experience. The OT is undertaking the SSI simplification equity strategy and plans to include accessibility expertise to ensure greater disability equity in our initiatives.

Established the Office of Native American Partnerships

The Office's mission is to elevate and centralize efforts to administer comprehensive programs and policies related to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The office also works to enhance the agency's relationship with Tribes, serving as the primary point of contact on Tribal affairs for all stakeholders.

Learn about our Native American Partnerships

Increased language access in application forms

In August 2023, SSA made form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) instructions available in 15 languages other than English and Spanish in local Social Security offices and Card Centers. The non-English instructions will help applicants with LEP complete the English-language form SS-5.

Increased voluntary race and ethnicity reporting opportunities

In August 2022, SSA added race and ethnicity questions to the online Social Security number application process used to obtain a Social Security card. This has resulted in an increase of voluntary reporting of race and ethnicity information. In September 2023, SSA also added race and ethnicity questions to the online Social Security number replacement application process used to obtain a replacement card.

In October 2023, we made the “Share Your Race and Ethnicity & Help Us Improve Service and Access” poster available in all local Social Security Offices and Card Centers. In April 2024, we made the poster available in 24 languages, including Navajo and Yupik. Select available posters below:

Increased the overall number of SSI applications, nationally and in underserved communities.

In FY 2023, SSA launched a new SSI “Basic Needs” campaign to restore applications closer to pre-pandemic levels, in support of its FYs 2022-2023 Agency Priority Goal (APG). The APG was to increase SSI applications from underserved communities by 25 percent and nationwide by 15 percent, relative to the 2021 baseline. The agency exceeded its APG target for SSI applications from underserved communities, achieving about 105 percent of its goal. Nationwide, the agency achieved about 99 percent of its goal for SSI applications.

Increased Gender Equity and Equality in our Programs

In September 2022, SSA updated policy to offer people the choice to self-select their gender on their SSN record. People who update their gender marker will still need to show a current document to prove their identity, but they will no longer need to provide medical or legal documentation of their gender.

Racial Equity Research, Statistics, and Data Resources

SSA is assessing the current and historical equity of its programs in response to Executive Order 13985 (January 2021) and Executive Order 14091 (February 2023).

To support that assessment, we have compiled the following list of currently available information on the racial and/or ethnic characteristics of the Social Security-covered population. In addition to research and statistical publications, we include surveys that provide public-use data used in many of our publications.

Learn about our Racial Equity Research, Statistics, and Data Resources

Social Security Administration Tribal Benefits Coordinator Guide 2023

This edition of the Tribal Benefits Coordinator Guide includes policy updates and helpful information unique to Native Americans. This guide will provide Tribal Benefits Coordinators an up-to date picture of how Social Security serves Indian Country communities.

Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC)

In Summer 2023, we completed the RDRC recompetition for the five-year agreements (i.e., research grants) covering activities for FY 2024-FY 2028. Six centers were selected to receive the awards. Five out of six centers include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or other Institutions Serving Students of Color (ISSCs) as partners, with HBCU and ISSC staff leading the centers as directors or co-directors. This selection of HBCUs and ISSICs was a first for RDRC.

Learn about the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC)

Small Business Procurement Scorecard

In FY 2022, we received a grade ‘A’ on our Small Business Procurement Scorecard from the Small Business Administration. We are very proud to have achieved and exceeded our overall Small Business Goal along with three of the four socio-economic goals: Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. SSA has received an ‘A’ on our scorecard every year since 2013.

Review SSA’s Small Business Procurement Scorecard

Future Listening Sessions

SSA is interested in engaging with our partners and the public to receive feedback on our equity action plan and hear of other opportunities to advance opportunity using SSA programs and policies. Sign up to our newsletter to stay tuned for additional information on SSA listening sessions on equity.