The University of Arizona

Alumni Early Career Profiles - Rebekah A. Madrigal

Name: Rebekah A. Madrigal
Education: B.S., Mathematics, The University of Arizona, May 2002
B.A., Economics, The University of Arizona, May 2002
Position: Claims Representative
Social Security Administration
Sector: Government


I have been with the Social Security Administration for 16 months. Prior to this employment I was working as a Systems Analyst with the University of Arizona. Much of my work was with students, professors and faculty. This experience involved a lot of communication and problem solving skills. These skills were prerequisites for my current employment with SSA. Some of my responsibilities include assisting and providing information to beneficiaries regarding all programs administered by the Social Security Administration.

A detailed element of my job involving mathematics includes working with post-entitlement issues that arise within the social security programs. (Post-entitlement issues are issues that arise after a claimant is already entitled to benefits.) Sometimes I must document and resolve questions regarding overpayment and underpayment of benefits. This may include calculating repayment schedules and inputting offsets. Other uses of mathematics include providing estimates of benefits payable under both RSI (Retirement and Survivors Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) programs.

I graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Sociology in May 2002. Some skills used everyday in my job includes analytical skills. This may include looking over years of payment records for one individual to determine how an overpayment or underpayment may have occurred. After determining where the error occurred it is my responsibility to be able to explain the details to the beneficiary. Other relevant skills for the job include organization, communication, presentation, problem solving, and computer skills. With the every day changes to SSA policy and updates in technology it is also extremely important to have an ability to acquire knowledge quickly and efficiently.

I would advise high school or college students considering a career in mathematics to be knowledgeable about career opportunities. A lot of times when I tell someone that I have a degree in mathematics they ask why I am not teaching. There are a lot more career opportunities out there that have more to do with mathematics than teaching. Something I've also found is that, having a college degree has opened more doors for me than anything else. So if mathematics is what you enjoy, then pursue it.