Is the Social Security Administration closing my local district office where I go for applying for Social Security Disabilityand SSI claims?
As millions of Americans approach retirement age, or face illnesses that leave them unable to work, the Social Security Administration has been closing a record number of field offices because of reduced budgets – just as the need for services skyrockets. These field offices, also known as district offices, are the offices where most Americans go applying for Social Security Disability.
The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging has recently reported that, as the generation of the post World War II baby boom continues to age, the numbers of both disability and retirement applications is predictably escalating. In the face of this increased demand for services, the Committee found that since 2010 the Social Security Administration’s slashed budget has caused it to close 64 field offices and 533 temporary mobile offices that had served rural areas. In addition, service hours have been reduced in the 1,245 field offices that are still open.
While more individuals begin to use online services when applying for Social Security Disability benefits, those who lack access to the Internet are increasingly being left behind. At Goss & Fentress, we hear repeatedly from our clients about the increased wait times for telephone calls both to Social Security field offices and to the toll-free help line. The wait has grown nearly intolerable for those who need information about Social Security disability eligibility or other assistance from the Social Security Administration. Consider yourself lucky if you get through to speak to a person at all, as the Senate Select Committee reported that 14 percent of callers to the toll-free help line aren’t even put on hold. They just get a busy signal.
That the field offices generally have such large numbers of visitors proves that they continue to serve a very important purpose. Not all Americans are comfortable with internet services, and not all internet services can substitute for personal service. People obtain important information about Social Security Disability eligibility, SSI claims, widow disability and other benefits, which would be difficult or impossible for them to get in any other way than a face to face exchange. They prefer to go to the district office when filing for Social Securiity disability and SSI claims, and where they can get help completing Social Security disability forms. Given the important role the Social Security programs will be playing in the lives of an increasing number of Americans, the Social Security Administration should not be forced to continue to cut services by eliminating field offices.
If you agree, and you want your own local Social Security office to be there when the need arises for applying for Social Security disability, contact the Senate Select Committee on Aging at http://www.aging.senate.gov/, and let your voice be heard.