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Social Security Administration Press Release

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Social Security Disability

Yesterday afternoon, the Social Security Administration published the following press release, which I will later go on to review:

Social Security Field Offices to Begin Closing to the Public a Half Hour Early Congressional Budget Cuts Force Reduced Public Hours

Effective August 15, 2011, Social Security field offices nationwide will close to the public 30 minutes early each day. For example, a field office that is usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will close daily at 3:30 p.m.

“While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow us to complete face-to-face service with the visiting public without incurring the cost of overtime for our employees,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “Congress provided our agency with nearly $1 billion less than the President requested for our budget this fiscal year, which makes it impossible for us to provide the amount of overtime needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past.”

Most Social Security services do not require a visit to an office. For example, anyone wishing to apply for benefits, sign up for direct deposit, replace a Medicare card, obtain a proof of income letter or inform us of a change of address or telephone number may do so at www.socialsecurity.gov or by dialing our toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

The press release above can be found at the SSA website. It is clear from the press release that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is shortening public window hours in order to save money. Over the last six months or so budget cuts have continuously come in, this time effecting the time an individual has to come into local field offices for help.

On its face, SSA seems to be claiming that the half hour modification will avoid overtime hours for its employees. However, from experience and knowing the backlog of work SSA employees have it is hard for me to believe that a mere half an hour will make any real dent in the overtime hours.

The press release also noted that most of the services, including applying for Social Security disability benefits, can be done over the phone or by using the internet--seemingly arguing that the half hour time difference should not cause any increased workflow. While it is true that more and more claimants are applying from the comfort of their homes, a large number of individuals still prefer to physically go into a field office to apply for disability benefits. I know from personal experience that some of the local Chicago field offices have days where there are lines of people waiting to be helped. If anything, I would think that a half an hour less of public window hours would ultimately only increase the backlog of work to do. People looking to apply for Social Security disability benefits or appeal their disability benefits still tend to feel safer completing the necessary paperwork in person.

Overall, I am not sure how successful this most recent budget cut will be and am not convinced it will do everything SSA claims.

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