One thing that becomes quickly apparent when dealing with the Social Security Administration is just how many of its practices exist for no real reason other than because these things have always been done in a certain way.
Take for example the requirement that anyone applying for disability benefits with the help of an attorney must submit a wet ink signed, hard copy of their application. In an era when documents can be signed securely and electronically, there is really no good reason to maintain this requirement, which can add weeks if not months to the application process.
Well, one group is hoping to finally change this outdated practice. In August, the United Spinal Association, a nonprofit that works on the behalf of people with spinal cord injuries, filed a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in the hopes of forcing the agency to accept electronic signatures.
Writing for The Hill, association CEO and president James Weisman argues that the wet signature requirement is discriminatory against people with mobility impairments that prevent them from signing their name.
He also says that it violates several other federal mandates that seek to reduce unnecessary paperwork, including the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Government Paper Elimination Act, and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.
Curiously, several other federal agencies, including the IRS and the Department of Veterans Affairs have no issues with accepting electronic signatures, so hopefully this lawsuit will get the Social Security Administration to rethink this outdated policy and make it a little bit easier to apply for disability benefits.