Document Name: Chapter 2: Beneficiaries
Date: 12/04/95
Owner: National Performance Review

Chapter 2

Customer Service Standards for


Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled

Coordinates the purchasing needs of the government with employment and training opportunities for people who are blind or severely disabled.

The Committee has established the following standards to help it meet the needs of participating nonprofit agencies (NPAs) and their Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Program employees:

Jobs for people with severe disabilities:

* The Committee will strive to provide job opportunities that allow individuals with severe disabilities to acquire relevant skills to prepare them, whenever possible, for competitive employment and will encourage NPAs to promote competitive employment opportunities for direct labor employees with disabilities.

Technical assistance and marketing:

* The Committee will communicate clearly and concisely to the National Industries for the Blind (NIB), National Industries for the Severely Handicapped (NISH), and participating NPAs all requirements and other information that affect their participation in the JWOD Program. The Committee will work with NIB and NISH to provide technical assistance to help NPAs maintain proper standards and records in compliance with federal laws and regulations governing their employment of people with severe disabilities under the JWOD Act. Requirements for participation in the program will be the minimum necessary to assure compliance with all such laws and regulations, and Committee policy. The Committee will actively assist NPAs to market their products and services to the federal government.

Timely action:

* Committee actions regarding additions, pricing, contract administration, compliance, and other activities will be performed within the shortest time possible in accordance with established timeframes to enhance the ability of the NPAs to accomplish their mission of providing employment and training for people who have severe disabilities.

The Committee has established these standards to help it meet the needs of federal government customers:

Quality and fair pricing:

* JWOD products and services will meet the customers' quality requirements at a fair market price.

Technical assistance and timely action:

* The Committee will communicate clearly and concisely to federal procurement personnel and end users of JWOD products and services all requirements and other information that affect their participation in the JWOD Program, and help remove barriers to their support of the program. Committee actions regarding additions, pricing, and contract administration will be performed within the shortest time possible in accordance with established timeframes to enhance the ability of procurement personnel to meet their customers' demands for products and services.

Easy ordering:

* The Committee will work with distributing agencies, including the General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Defense Logistics Agency, and any authorized commercial distributors to ensure that JWOD products are easily identifiable and accessible via up-to-date procurement methods such as credit card purchasing and electronic commerce.

Defense (Department)

Defense Logistics Agency

Defense Personnel Support Center Homeless Support Initiative

Provides clothing and bedding to organizations housing the homeless.

* We will deliver material requested by organizations serving the homeless within two weeks.

Health and Human Services (Department)

Administration on Aging

Carries out the provisions of the Older Americans Act of 1965.

* Administration on Aging (AOA) will distribute funding under the Older Americans Act fairly and objectively, according to the requirement of law.

* AOA will assure complete accuracy in its official grant files.

* For periodic financial reports, AOA will strive to have at least 90 percent of reports received on time, and will follow up within two weeks on reports that are not received when they are due.

* AOA will track grants on a monthly basis for those ready for close-out. Outstanding sums identified at close-out will be reported to the Department's Payment Management system within one week of close-out.

* AOA will provide the aging network information and technical resources by establishing resource centers and other institutions that provide the help the network needs to assure high-quality services for older Americans. AOA will make every effort to respond to requests by the network to specialize in those areas where help is critically needed.

* AOA will work with the aging network to implement a new system of information collection that will provide accurate and reliable data about Older American Act programs.

* Following the implementation of the National Aging Program Information System, AOA will assure that the data are analyzed to identify trends and project the needs of older Americans.

* AOA will provide to the aging network the most accurate, up-to-date demographic information available.

* AOA will make information available upon request to the aging network in various formats on a wide range of subjects of professional interest.

* AOA will work with states and tribal grantees to identify areas of weakness in program administration under Title III, Title VI, and Title VII and to determine technical assistance resources available to correct any deficiencies identified.

* AOA will provide answers to routine policy questions within 45 days and will provide a timeframe, not to exceed 120 days, for more complicated questions.

Health Care Financing Administration

Medicare and Medicaid

Manages the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Written responses:

* We will answer your written inquiries within 30 days of receipt. If, on rare occasions, we have reason to believe that responding will take more than 30 days, we will acknowledge your inquiry within 10 days.

Telephone standards:

* We will respond to your telephone inquiries in a pleasant and helpful manner. We will provide an immediate answer whenever possible; a firm commitment as to when an answer can be provided; or, at your request, an accurate referral to the proper party or a return call from someone who can help you. On at least 80 percent of your calls, you will be on hold for less than two minutes. Calls made in off hours will be returned the next business day.

Information needs:

* We are reviewing all of our publications and notices to assure that they can be understood by our customers. Our proposed changes will have customer input, as will their evaluation. By the end of this year, we will begin introducing our revised communications.

Medicare claims processing:

* We will process your claims for service accurately and within the times provided for in the law. If you are dissatisfied with the action we take on your claim, we will process your appeal accurately and within the times established in our published standards for contractors, and we will reduce the paperwork burden associated with appeals.

* We will provide you with more consistent determination on your claims by improving and simplifying our claim processing system.

Customer satisfaction:

* We will measure your satisfaction with Medicare, Medicaid, and managed care plans through the use of customer surveys, focus groups, public comments, meetings with customer representatives, etc.

* We will seek your ideas and the assistance of voluntary membership groups representing your interests in setting standards and evaluating our performance.

* We will accurately identify those segments of our customer population that may have special needs related to vision, hearing, mobility, literacy, the use of English, health status, and other factors. We will make a special effort to discover and define these needs and will strive to provide reasonable accommodations and access to services and program information. We will employ people qualified to address these challenges, and then encourage inclusive and innovative thinking in our workforce.

Health issues:

* We will prepare and distribute clear, understandable materials about the benefits and disadvantages of the managed care option, including performance data about individual plans, to assist customers in their health care decisionmaking.

Medicaid special standard:

* HCFA will encourage all states to establish customer service standards for Medicaid, and we will work with them to assure a goal of continuous improvement in customer service and program administration.

Health care quality:

* We will provide doctors and hospitals with information they can use to give better care to our beneficiaries, and we will monitor the effect of those activities.

* We will expedite our investigative and case review process as much as the law will permit when a complaint involves quality issues.

* We will respond to verbal or written complaints from beneficiaries or their representatives by mailing a complaint form to them within two working days of the telephone contact or responding in writing to written beneficiary complaints within 10 working days.

Program administration:

* We will fully investigate all potential program fraud and abuse leads to protect against unnecessary expenditures.

* We will work assiduously with our customers to identify and implement creative and effective approaches to improving our programs and our performance.

Public Health Service

Clearinghouses and Information Centers

Provide information.

* Your telephone call will be answered promptly during core working hours, usually between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST. Standard information may be provided through automated menu choices; an information specialist will be available to answer your questions. After hours, your call may be handled by an automated system. TDD access will be available.

* The information specialist will be courteous and helpful. He or she will listen carefully to your request and provide you with the most up-to-date information available. If the information you need is not readily available, it will be located and you will either be called back with the answer or will receive the information by mail and/or fax.

* If your call needs to be addressed by another agency, state, or local program, we will give you an accurate referral to obtain your answers and, whenever possible, route your inquiry directly to that agency or program by mail or phone.

* All telephone requests for in-stock printed materials and written inquiries that do not require special attention will be processed within five working days of receipt.

* Publications will be written in a clear and informative manner with easily understood language and helpful format.

* We will strive to make information available through additional channels, including electronic media, and intermediaries such as community organizations and libraries.

Health Resources and Services Administration: National Hansen's Disease Center

Provides care and treatment, including outpatient care, without charge to any persons suffering from Hansen's Disease.

* You can expect us to provide you with informed, considerate, and respectful care. Case discussion, consultation, examination, and treatment will be conducted discreetly.

* You have the right to know which doctor is in charge of your care and to consult with your doctor as necessary regarding your care.

* We will work with you to meet your physical and emotional needs through doctors, nurses, social workers, and others. Sharing your anxieties with us will help us provide the best assistance.

* You can expect us to provide you with complete current information about your health care. We will also provide information about Hansen's Disease to family members or others on your behalf.

* You have the right to refuse treatment, but we have an obligation to inform you of the medical consequences of such refusal.

* We will refer you to other sources of care should you have a problem that is beyond our medical expertise or facility capability.

* Your records of health care at Carville, Louisiana, will be kept confidential, except to the extent you wish information released or as required by laws and regulations.

* We will provide an ombudsman with whom you may discuss concerns about our facility and these standards.

* Through information obtained from you and other patients by interviews and questionnaires, we are committed to improving service to our patients.

Indian Health Service

Provides health care services to American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

Your right: You deserve to know who is treating you and what services are available to help maintain your health.

* Our standard: Our staff will verbally identify themselves to you upon contact, will wear name tags, and will provide information on types of services available to you.

Your right: You deserve respectful care and consideration for your emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual values and comfort.

* Our standard: Our staff will be oriented through in-service training to be sensitive to your emotional, social, cultural and spiritual values and comfort.

Your right: You deserve to have all the information you need to help you and your family make treatment decisions in partnership with your health care providers.

* Our standard: Our staff will inform you and answer your questions about your treatment. The information provided to you will be documented in your medical record.

Your right: You have a choice to accept or refuse medical care to the extent permitted by law, and to be informed of the medical consequences of your decision.

* Our standard: Our staff will discuss with you our recommended treatment and document your decision in your medical record.

Your right: You deserve to be assured of your personal privacy and the confidentiality of your medical records.

* Our standard: We will take full responsibility for protecting your personal privacy and the confidentiality of your medical records. Except as authorized by law, any use of your record outside of your personal health care will be undertaken only with your written permission.

Your right: You have the right to expect that, within our capacity, we will be responsive to your requests for services.

* Our standard: Our staff will respond to your requests for services as quickly as possible. For services not available locally, you and your family will be informed how and where you can obtain these services and whether transportation will be provided.

National Cancer Institute Information Associates Program

Provides information on cancer research diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

The National Cancer Institute is committed to providing world-class service to health professional members of the NCI Information Associates Program and pledges to:

* Collect and disseminate the most up-to-date information relating to cancer research, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment from around the world.

* Design information systems to help health care professionals cope with the information explosion by translating the medical literature into usable knowledge.

* Utilize the latest technology--fax, e-mail, dial-up bulletin board system, the Internet, and the World Wide Web--to provide members with convenient access to this information. Also provide access to cancer information via a toll-free phone number to assist members who do not have access to electronic resources.

* Provide quality customer service through our Member Service Center, which is accessible via a toll-free phone number within the United States and is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. eastern U.S. time.

* Staff our Member Service Center with friendly Member Service Representatives trained to provide prompt, accurate answers to questions about the Program and to provide assistance to members in accessing products and services.

* Keep members informed of new products and services and enhancements to products and services and solicit ideas for new products and services through a member newsletter, ProtoCall.

* Continually evaluate and refine products, services, delivery mechanisms, and customer service based on input from both users and potential users.

Housing and Urban Development (Department)

Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

In general, customers can expect the following customer service standards.

* Every customer is entitled to courteous treatment.

* Every customer should be provided with additional assistance should the need arise.

* Provide adequate telephone coverage throughout the business day to receive calls and answer questions.

* Provide an interim response when a complete response requires additional time for research or there is a heavy workload.

* Solicit feedback and react to customers' comments.

* Train all employees regularly on customer service.

* Encourage teamwork and assure that all staff are thoroughly informed.

* Provide basic program training to clerical staff, particularly those who deal with the public.

* Assure that each person in the organization conducts himself/herself as a professional.

Fair Housing Enforcement (Title VIII)

Enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or family status.

Customers can expect the following administrative customer service standards:

* Provide assistance in the processing of complaints consistent with notices, compliance manuals, and case law.

* Provide efficient investigation and processing of complaints.

* Provide consistency and reliability in case investigations and analysis.

* Improve customer understanding of the complaint process.

* Provide training and assistance to local organizations in Fair Housing Act interpretation.

* Provide information to grantees of HUD funds regarding processing complaints.

* Assist in conciliating complaints.

* Assist in enforcement through hearings when a charge has been issued.

Office of Economic Opportunity

Administers Section 3 of the HUD Act of 1968.

Customers and partners can expect the following administrative customer service standards:

* Provide training/technical assistance to recipients and contractors on providing employment and training opportunities to Section 3 residents and on awarding contracts to Section 3 business concerns.

* Provide guidance and assistance by conducting educational seminars for recipients, contractors, community-based organizations, and other groups to assure an understanding of Section 3.

* Educate and inform Section 3 residents and Section 3 business concerns of employment, training, and contracting opportunities.

* Provide training to recipients to assist them with recordkeeping.

* Follow up regularly with customers to ensure that quality products and information are being provided.

Program Compliance and Disability Rights

Enforces civil rights laws and regulations relating to equal benefits and participation and disability issues in HUD programs, and develops and implements policy and provides technical assistance to the public, HUD recipients, and HUD staff.

Customers can expect the following administrative customer service standards:

* Coordinate the enforcement of multi-jurisdictional complaints expediently.

* Coordinate effectively with other federal agencies in interagency compliance reviews and complaint investigations.

* Expand the understanding by HUD officials of housing needs of consumers with disabilities.

* Provide technical assistance to recipients to assist them in complying with HUD civil rights laws and regulations.

* Train HUD staff in civil rights complaint and investigation procedures so that customers' complaints can be effectively investigated.

* Educate recipients/advocates/complainants on civil rights regulations.

* Provide technical assistance to HUD recipients in policy implementation.

* Assist in negotiating remedies for complainants.

* Convey the status of complaints, requests for review, etc., within one day of request.

* Answer all policy questions within three days by phone or within five days in writing.

Regulatory Initiatives and Federal Coordination

Seeks to further fair housing through development of regulations and other guidance, administration of Executive Order 12892, and innovative projects to involve other federal agencies in removal of barriers to housing choice.

Customers, including the lending and insurance industries, consumer advocates, fair housing and civil rights groups, government officials, the press, members of protected classes, and the general public can expect the following administrative customer service standards:

* Provide guidance on interpreting fair housing law through the publication of proposed regulations governing lending and insurance.

* Provide substantive comments on proposed HUD regulations and policy regarding fair lending and insurance matters.

* Provide substantive comments on proposed legislation regarding fair lending and insurance matters.

* Provide training and informational briefings as requested to HUD employees, lending and insurance industries, consumer advocacy, fair housing and civil rights groups, government officials, the press, members of protected classes, and the general public.

* Provide timely responses to questions and concerns of customers regarding fair lending and fair insurance practices.

Section 8 Counseling Program

Implements counseling service programs and landlord/tenant outreach programs to ensure that low-income families have the opportunity to make real choices of where they want to live.

Customers and partners can expect the following administrative customer service standards:

* Provide technical assistance to assist Housing Authorities with outreach to private landlords in low-poverty neighborhoods.

* Provide guidance in the review of determination of eligible families for credit, housekeeping, and criminal backgrounds to ensure suitability for counseling services.

* Provide guidance for HAs to assist families in negotiating rent incentives and inducements from landlords during a housing search.

* Provide technical assistance in coordinating support services and counseling on opportunities to families for education, child care, medical care, and employment after a family moves to a new unit.

* Provide guidance on criteria used to assess the HA's performance.

* Provide guidance on monitoring activities for compliance with fair housing laws.

* Provide technical assistance in the monitoring of rents in low-poverty neighborhoods in comparison to Section 8 Fair Market Rents (FMRs) every six months to determine the impact of the FMRs on the range of housing opportunities on families.

* Provide guidance to HAs in undertaking additional housing counseling activities that have the potential for expanding housing opportunities for eligible families.

* Provide training to the HAs to assist them with their program recordkeeping requirements.

* Follow up regularly to ensure that quality products and information were provided.

Office of Housing--Fair Housing Administration

Mortgage Assignment Program, Mortgage Approval Process, Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance, Section 203(k)

Stimulates housing through direct financing, loan guarantees, interest rate subsidies, and mortgage insurance.

You can expect our employees to meet the following standards:


* Every customer is entitled to courteous treatment.

* Every employee represents the Office of Housing.

* Display name plates or wear name tags as appropriate.

* Identify yourself and your organization every time you have a customer.

* Don't drop the ball--direct correspondence and telephone calls to the correct party.

* When transferring a customer, take time to reassure the customer that assistance can be obtained by speaking with another party in the office and that the caller is not being shuffled around.

* After assisting a customer, offer to provide additional assistance at a later time should the need arise.

* Provide a "real person" alternative to all voice-mail messages.

* Strive to provide foreign language alternatives and alternatives for the deaf and blind, when necessary.

Quality products:

* Provide all available information to a customer on the first call or letter; ensure that all questions are answered.

* Write in plain English, not technical or government jargon.

* Follow up regularly to ensure that quality products are provided.

* Advise customers/partners in writing when new policies or changes are being considered; involve them in the development phase.

* Consider the needs of customers/partners when developing products and procedures.

* Apprise customers/partners of operational problems; e.g., don't wait for the customer to call only to be told the system they need is down.

* Reach out to customers--go to their place of business when possible; conduct regular conference calls.

* Include a contact name, organization, telephone number, and effective date on every document; e.g., handbook, mortgagee letter, congressional and general correspondence.

Timely service:

* Ensure adequate telephone coverage throughout the business day; answer all phone calls by the third ring.

* Respond to all telephone inquiries within 24 hours.

* Respond to written correspondence within 10 working days.

* Provide an interim response when a complete response requires extra time for research or there is a heavy workload.

* Provide 1-800 customer service numbers when possible and economically feasible.


* Establish quantitative customer service goals and incorporate them into performance standards and Housing's plan where possible.

* Establish quantitative processing standards for each program or function.

* Solicit feedback and react to customer comments.

* Train all employees regularly on customer service initiatives.

* Institute random supervisory quality control checks to ensure that appropriate and adequate customer service is provided.

* Encourage teamwork so all staff are thoroughly informed.

* Provide basic program training to clerical staff, particularly those who deal with the public.

* Include in the headquarters telephone directory and each field office telephone directory a contact name and telephone number for each program area.

* Always conduct oneself as a representative of the organization.

Mortgage Assignment Program:

The following customer service standards are used by field office staff in handling customers who are seeking relief:

* Customer receives written notice from the mortgagee that the mortgage is in default. The letter outlines the eligibility requirements for the Mortgage Assignment Program and gives the customer 15 calendar days to contact the HUD field office.

* Customer contacts field office staff and requests acceptance in the Mortgage Assignment Program.

* Staff identifies documents needed to make eligibility determination and schedules a conference with the customer.

* Staff completes analyses of documents prior to conference.

* Decision on acceptance into the Mortgage Assignment Program is made within 90 calendar days from the date of the customer's initial telephone call to the date of final decision.

Mortgage approval process:

* Processing time from the date of receipt of the application package to date of final approval/rejection is 45 calendar days.

Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance, Section 203(k):
Mortgagees (partners) make Section 203(k) loans available because HUD insures the mortgage before rehabilitation work is completed. If you are the mortgagee, you can expect us to meet this standard:

* Processing is completed and a mortgage insurance certificate is issued to the mortgagee within 10 days of HUD's receipt of the closed loan.

Labor (Department)

Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration

Educates and assists our customers--over 200 million pension, health, and older employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries; over 3 million plan sponsors; and members of the employee benefit community--for the purposes of promoting voluntary compliance and facilitating self-regulation and of providing quality assistance to plan participants and beneficiaries.

Direct assistance to the public:

Our goal in providing direct assistance is to raise the knowledge level of participants and beneficiaries, service providers, and other interested parties and to ensure that they have access to available plan documents. This enables participants to better understand and exercise their rights under the law and, when possible, recover any benefits to which they may be entitled. This also allows practitioners the opportunity to better understand and comply with the law.

Participant assistance:

Individualized participant assistance is offered by both our national and field offices. When you write, call, or visit our offices in search of assistance, you will receive information that will inform you of your rights and help you seek benefits. We are available to explain how the law applies to you and, in appropriate cases, will make inquiries on your behalf. Such inquiry will be informal and generally will not include litigation on your behalf or provision of legal advice. We will be vigilant in identifying and acting upon patterns of complaints.

* If you telephone our office you can expect:

-- a friendly, courteous voice.

-- a representative who will listen to your questions and be sensitive to your situation.

-- a return call no later than the end of the next business day.

* If you write our office you can expect:

-- a reply within 30 days after we receive your letter.

-- a clear, easy-to-understand response.

* You will always receive straightforward information on how the law applies to your circumstances, information on options that may be available, respect for your privacy, and the name of our employee assisting you.


Complaints involving alleged violations of ERISA also are handled by our national and field office technical assistance staff and investigators.

* Complainants can expect a prompt and courteous response from our staff. While we cannot ensure that every complaint will result in an investigation, at the conclusion of enforcement activity, if requested, we will furnish the complainant an understandable explanation of the outcome of our review and investigation.

* When you write or call our offices for assistance or with a complaint, we need certain information to help you. It would be helpful to have this information available when you contact us by telephone. If you write us you should include the information in your letter:

-- your name and daytime telephone number;

-- a brief explanation of your problem;

-- evidence that you have filed a claim for benefits;

-- name, address, and telephone number of your employer or plan official to be contacted;

-- your permission to inquire on your behalf, if necessary; and

-- employment dates, birthdate, social security number, policy number, or other identification numbers.

* For technical assistance and complaints, you should call or write our national office Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries or one of the field offices located nearest you.

Document requests:

* Requests for documents are handled by the PWBA Public Disclosure Room. Our employees are available during regular office hours to process your requests. You should expect your request to be handled in a timely, courteous, and proficient manner.

* Our policy is to fill all requests for summary plan descriptions within 10 days and Form 5500s within five days.

* All large special requests will be acknowledged within five working days. At that time, our staff will provide an estimated date for completion and will keep you apprised of any problems arising during the processing stage.

* All requests for documents submitted under the Freedom of Information Act will be filled or acknowledged within 10 days after receipt by the disclosure officer.

* All document requests will be processed on a "first-come-first-served" basis. We will inform requesters of any backlog.

* We need certain information to help you when you contact our disclosure office for assistance, either by telephone or by e-mail--name of plan, name of employer, and employer identification and plan number, if known.

* For copies of documents you should write our disclosure staff at the following address:
U.S. Department of Labor
PWBA Public Disclosure Room
Room N 5638
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Protects participants' pension benefits and supports a healthy retirement system.

For Plan Participants--As customers of PBGC, you deserve our best efforts. Our first goal, of course, is getting you your benefit check on time each month. We are also committed to always showing you courtesy and respect when you contact us. We pledge that:

* In all correspondence to you, we will give you the toll-free number of our Customer Service Center and the name of a person to contact at PBGC.

* In all communications with you, we will acknowledge your inquiry within one week.

* We will return your initial phone call within one workday.

* If we cannot give you an immediate answer, we will tell you when to expect it.

* If it will take us longer than expected to answer your question, we will give you a status report and tell you a new date when to expect an answer.

* If you are receiving a pension check, changes you request (such as address change, direct deposit, tax change) will be made within 30 days, if the request is received by the first of the month. It will take another month if the request is received after the first of the month.

Railroad Retirement Board

An independent agency that administers retirement, disability, and unemployment/sickness for railroad employees.

* We will be courteous and treat you with respect every time you contact us.

* We will hold all information you provide us with in confidence to respect your privacy.

* We will reply within 10 working days of receiving your letter. If for any reason we can only send a partial reply, we will tell you how long it will be before we can answer your questions fully.

* If you filed for your railroad retirement employee or spouse annuity in advance, you will receive your first payment, or a decision, within 45 days of your date of retirement.

* If you filed for a railroad retirement survivor annuity or lump sum benefit, you will receive your first payment, or a decision, within 75 days from the date you filed your application, or became entitled to benefits, if later.

* If you filed an application for unemployment or sickness benefits, you will receive a claim form, or a decision, within 15 days of when we receive your application.

* If you filed a claim for unemployment or sickness insurance benefits, you will receive your payments, or a decision, within 15 days of the date we receive your claim form.

* If you filed for a railroad retirement disability annuity, you will receive your first payment, or decision, within 120 days from the date you filed your application.

* If you think we made a wrong decision about your benefits, you have the right to ask for review and to appeal. We will tell you about these rights each time we make an unfavorable decision about your benefits.

* Claims for some benefits may take longer to handle than others if they are more complex, or if we have to get information from other people or organizations. If this happens, we will give you an explanation and an estimate of the time required to make a decision.


* We will display in each office how well we are meeting the established standards.

* When you visit our offices, the staff you see will identify themselves by name.

* When you phone us, we will identify ourselves by name.

* Our letters will be easy to understand, and the person writing to you will give you his or her name.


* When you phone us, you should be able to reach us on the first try.

* When visiting us, you will be helped within five minutes of your scheduled appointment.

* You will not have to wait more than 30 minutes if you do not have an appointment.

* If you cannot come to our office, we may be able to visit you at home or at one of our regularly scheduled traveling service locations.


* If things go wrong, at the very least you are entitled to a good explanation and an apology.

* A Customer Assessment Survey form is available in every office for you to tell us how we did, and how we can improve our services.

* If you are not satisfied with our service, you may contact the manager of the office you have been dealing with, or the Regional Director over that office. Their names and addresses are available in each office.

Social Security Administration

Manages the social security programs.

* We will administer our programs effectively and efficiently to protect and maintain the social security trust funds and to ensure public confidence in the value of social security.

* We are committed to fair and equitable service to our customers.

* We promise to respect your privacy and safeguard the information in your social security record.

* We are equally committed to providing you with world-class public service. When you conduct business with us, you can expect:

-- we will provide service through knowledgeable employees who will treat you with courtesy, dignity, and respect every time you do business with us.

-- we will provide you with our best estimate of the time needed to complete your request and fully explain any delays.

-- we will clearly explain our decisions so you can understand why and how we made them and what to do if you disagree.

-- we will make sure our offices are safe and pleasant and our services are accessible.

* When you make an appointment, we will serve you within 10 minutes of the scheduled time.

* If you request a new or replacement social security card from one of our offices, we will mail it to you within five working days of our receiving all the information we need. If you have an urgent need for the social security number, we will tell you the number within one working day.

We know that you expect world-class service in all of your dealings with us. Today, we are unable to meet your expectations in some areas, but we are working to change that. We are revising all our critical work processes to make them simpler, quicker, and more customer-friendly. When we redesign our processes, you can expect:

* When you call our 1-800 number, you will get through to it within five minutes of your first try.

* When you apply for disability benefits, you will get a decision within 60 days.

Treasury (Department)

Financial Management Service

Check Claims

Handles claims for lost or missing checks.

* We are reinventing our process so that it will take less time to process claims by reducing our average processing time from 54 days to 14 days.

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