SSA Tells 32,000 That Payments To Stop 1-1-1900 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From Raleigh News & Observer 9-4-99: The letters were sent out in August. Yesterday, Kathleen Adams, asst. dep. commissioner for systems at SSA said this was a y2k error. In the same breath she asserted that all of SSA's mission critical computers are fully compliant.

Puddintame says it's getting really difficult to see through all this "transparency."

-- Puddintame (, September 04, 1999


Puddintame, I guess we never got those rose-colored glasses huh? The SSA is the poster program for the Fed. They deemed themselves compliant even though the systems required to interface with individual states was not even tested and all the work hadn't been done. I wonder how the rest of the Fed is?

Guess this just wasn't a "mission critical" system : ) Of course, the +32,000 people that this affected might think differently.



-- Michael Taylor (, September 04, 1999.

Do you have more information or a news link for this story? Was it on AP?

Did the checks only affect a portion of Raleigh SS population?

-- eubie (, September 04, 1999.

SSA is the Poster Program and
Monkey County is the Poster Government.

BBWWAAHHAHAhahahahahahahahaha !!!!!!!!!
There's a clue to this story if ya look real hard ;^)


-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 04, 1999.

Remember folks, the Federal government has over 73,000 computer systems of which they have declared around 6,000 Mission Critical.

Do you suppose this could be one of those non Mission Critical systems??

You can bet your bottom dollar that some of those 67,000 non Mission Critical systems that have not been remediated will cause some MAJOR problems.


-- Ray (, September 04, 1999.

Here's the N&O site. I'd love to go there but my computer has fallen and it can't get up.

-- Old Git (, September 04, 1999.


Do you have a URL for this report? I looked around the news-observer site, but could not find where they tucked it away.


-- Jerry B (, September 04, 1999.

Timely SSA tidbit...

Welcome me to the list of confirmed skeptics 001Lps

Now lets confirm this puppy.


-- Diane J. Squire (, September 04, 1999.

Alas, I cannot find a wire link. This article is in the Saturday, September 4, 1999 News & Observer, Section A, Page 7, Column 1, in the section entitled "Briefly" under the subsection "Washington, DC."

The headline is "Y2K bug afflicts Social Security agency."

The piece is, indeed, brief. Only 3 short paragraphs.

The entire "Briefly " column is "From Wire Reports", but I could not find the story under the AP, Reuters, or UPI search engines. I have not checked Bloomberg or the broadcast media.

Here's another snip from the article:

"The notices, sent out August 22, went to families with dependents receiving Social Security benefits under the administration's survivor program, designed to financially aid families whose breadwinner has died or become disabled. Payments can be stopped after the dependents turn 18."

-- Puddintame (, September 04, 1999.

Humm. I didn't come up with anything there either...

Raleigh News Observer

24 Hour News
Nanado Times


Nando Search -- World Wide Web News -- Keywords: Social Security Administration Y2K...

...Has definate hits! Thanks Old Git!

Posted at 11:27 p.m. PDT; Saturday, September 4, 1999
Social Security catches Y2K bug, sends letters dated Jan. 1, 1900
by The Washington Post html98/glit_19990904.html

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

WASHINGTON - The Social Security Administration acknowledged yesterday sending out letters last month to more than 32,000 people bearing the news that certain benefits would end on Jan. 1, 1900.

Kathleen Adams, assistant deputy commissioner for systems at the Social Security Administration, attributed the date error to a glitch in the program that printed the letters. "Mission-critical" computers that generate checks are fully compliant with the Year 2000 computer problem, she said, but there may still be a few bugs to work out in less important systems.

"We're confident that all of the programs that determine who is eligible for benefits and for how much . . . are ready," said Adams. "There was no error in identifying who was to get these notices, and each was sent to the proper address."

The notices, sent out Aug. 22, went to families with dependents receiving Social Security benefits under the administration's survivor program, designed to help families whose breadwinner has died or become disabled. Payments can be stopped after dependents turn 18.

Notices with the correct date were sent out Wednesday.

The Year 2000 computer problem - or Y2K for short - stems from the use of two-digit date fields in many computer programs, which can cause the machines to interpret "00" as 1900 instead of 2000. Such a reading can cause a system to relay faulty data, malfunction or shut down completely.

The Social Security Administration issues checks to roughly 48 million Americans each month. Because its computer programs rely heavily on dates to calculate age and benefits, it is one of the federal agencies most vulnerable to Y2K problems.

Adams said that the "cosmetic" display programs - those that contain dates not used for age computations - have not been as rigorously tested as those that determine eligibility.

Copyright ) 1999 Seattle Times Company

-- Diane J. Squire (, September 04, 1999.


Thanks for getting back to us on this!


Thank you for finding that report!

Just between you and me :-) , HOW did you find it?


-- Jerry (, September 04, 1999.


Scratch that question. I see that you told us the answer: nandosearch.

Thanks again.


-- Jerry B (, September 04, 1999.

Let's see here...

Processing correctly handled dates, determining whose eligibility would expire.

Processing correctly sent the letters to the right people.

But apparently, printed '19' instead of '20'.

Yep, seems like y'all have been given a pretty good example of something considered "non mission-critical".

-- Hoffmeister (, September 04, 1999.

So, Hoff, this is a non-mission critical printing error. If your bank sends you a printed statement saying that your balance is $1 instead of $10,000, but your account number is correct and the statement came to the right address and was mailed on time, you will not consider that mission critical right?

If you're trying to defend this as evidence of things being fixed, you're about to lose credibility.

-- Puddintame (, September 04, 1999.

Question: Were these people supose to get "Termination of benifits" on 1/1/2000 and the computer just printed "19" instead of "20" OR did the computer miss identify people and terminated their benifits incorrectly?

There is a big difference!!!!

-- helium (, September 04, 1999.

Helium, I think the former, not the latter. I think they were due to have benefits terminated on 1-1-2000. Presumably, that's why this was on page 7 instead of above-the-fold on page 1.

-- Puddintame (, September 04, 1999.

No, Puddintame, I'd call my bank. Probably much as the people who received these letters called the SSA.

And whatever my statement said, if the bank records showed I still had the money, it is a minor problem.

Nobody said everything would be fixed. But the processing was done correctly.

-- Hoffmeister (, September 04, 1999.

The good news about this "cosmetic" error is that the medium on which the error appeared was paper. An analogous error in EFT transmissions (e.g. direct deposit) could induce a bit of havoc in numerous banking systems. Do you know the sound of busy signals?


-- Jerry B (, September 04, 1999.

It is my experience that most so called non-critical systems interface with critical ones. When this is the case, their is no assurance that a non-compliant non-critical systems won't corrupt a critical system.

-- Mr. Adequate (, September 04, 1999.

Did you see that? 48 million checks every month!

No wonder the SSA didn't want to do these manually...

-- eubie (, September 04, 1999.

You gotta admire Hoffy. Nothing scares him, nothing. Everything is simple and do-able. Just pick up the phone and bingo, problem gone. This guy is bullet proof. Silver Bullet Proof.

-- Gordon (, September 04, 1999.

what happens when the phones are down? for 3 months ...

-- h (h@h.h), September 04, 1999.


Well, IF the phones were down for 3 months, my guess is the last thing I'd be worrying about is how my bank statement printed.

Just a guess, though.

-- Hoffmeister (, September 04, 1999.


You are a stitch! First you think you will just pick up the phone and straighten it out. Like the SSA recipients. 32,000 +/- phone calls coming in for them to handle all at once. Right. But if the phones aren't working for 3 months, no problem there either. Don't need to worry about clearing up no steeeenking bank statement. Bullet proof, man, like a robo-cop.

-- Gordon (, September 05, 1999.

Scoffy Hoffy,

you are not CREDIBLE my man,

no one can take seriously your mind-set, you are a lost cause...

-- Andy (, September 06, 1999.

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