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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Social Security requires text-enabled cell phone for online access blaming President's order to use multifactor authentication

A letter from Congressman Peter DeFazio responding to my my IRS ADA complaint

PHOTO: A previous letter from Congressman Peter DeFazio responded to my IRS ADA complaint by starting a Congressional investigation on the matter, after he had read my letter to the editor, Thomas Kraemer, "IRS ignores plea for help," Gazette-Times, Feb. 5, 2012, p. D5. (See previous posts Congressman Peter DeFazio responds to my IRS ADA complaint (2/19/12), IRS tax documents belatedly provide low vision accessibility to comply with ADA law (1/9/14) and IRS tax forms are not low vision accessible and violate ADA law (2/5/12))

I recently received the following message from Social Security, blaming President Obama's executive order to use multifactor authentication, as the reason they are going to require the use of a text-enabled cell phone to access them online:

"If you do not have a cell phone, you will not be able to access your personal my Social Security account. To access your personal my Social Security account, you need a cell phone that can receive text messages. Each time you sign in, we send a text to your cell phone that contains a security code you will need to enter to access your account. Keep in mind that your cell phone provider's text message and data rates may apply. Please visit our website at (note: this link redirects to How to Contact Social Security) to learn other ways to contact us. " (Quoted from "Can I access my personal my Social Security account if I don't have a cell phone?" accessed Aug. 1, 2016)

This bad implementation of the President's order prompted me to write the following letter to the editor of my local newspaper:

President Obama's executive order makes sense to require federal agencies use multifactor authentication for online security, but the Social Security Administration's recent implementation is in violation of the Federal American's with Disability Act because it requires using a text-enabled cell phone, which is inaccessible to low-vision blind and deaf Americans.

It is inexcusable to require the use of a cell phone, especially given many people can't afford the cost of one and also there are many accessible methods that could be provided, such as an automated email or voice phone call, to your registered provider, giving you a one-time passcode.

Multifactor authentication for online access could also be implemented with a system many banks use to authenticate credit cards, which automatically detects your caller ID registered in their database after you call the toll-free number they provide.

I will be asking our U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio to demand that implementation of Obama's order for multifactor authentication be compliant with the ADA, just like he successfully did a few years ago with government websites that were inaccessible, even in browsers with built-in accessibility features, such as Microsoft's browser.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Federal government violates ADA," accessed Aug. 7, 2016 10 AM)

On a related note, my Congressman's newsletter, "Peter DeFazio Reports," August 2016, as mailed to all of his constituents, referenced the positions he holds on various issues of Social Security (see U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio, "Issues: Social Security," accessed Jul. 28, 2016) and it says, "DeFazio's plan would preserve the Social Security Trust Fund by closing a tax loophole so millionaires pay the same percentage of their salaries into Social Security as average American workers. Currently, 94 percent of Americans pay the Social Security tax on all of their income, while those who make more than $118,500 stop paying Social Security taxes once they reach the cap. His bill subjects all income to the same 6.2 percent Social Security tax rate that middle class wage earners must pay. According to the Social Security Actuary, this bill guarantees the Social Security Trust Fund will be solvent and pay full benefits until 2057."

Of course, Republicans ever since FDR have been trying to eliminate Social Security and the 1980's Republican President Reagan kicked off the most changes toward this goal by making people retire later and reducing future Social Security benefits for the Baby Boomer Generation. (See "History of Social Security in the United States," accessed Jul. 28, 2016)