The agency has closed dozens of field offices and sharply cut back the staff and hours of those still open. The cutbacks threaten to make wait times on its phone lines longer. Rulings on disability applications will take longer too. Put it all together, and client service at the Social Security Administration begins to look more like customer service at your cable company every day.
Last year the Social Security Administration suspended the mailing of individual statements to everyone except near-retirees 60 and older. Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue told me in March that he was hoping to restore the full mailing schedule via an appropriation in the president’s 2013 budget. But that budget hasn’t passed. Cutting the mailings to all 154 million recipients, the agency says, saves $70 million a year.
Yet in a practical sense, that expenditure is a bargain — it’s 44 cents per recipient, including postage, or a little more than one half of 1% of the agency’s $11.7-billion administrative budget. The agency notes that it has replaced the mailed paper statements with a facsimile you can find by going to the internet and creating an online account at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement.
Social Security says that if you have problems accessing the online service, you can get help at a Social Security office. Of course, those offices, which used to be open until 4 p.m., are now open only till 3:30. Starting in mid-November, they’ll only be open till 3. And starting Jan. 2, they’ll be closing at noon Wednesdays.
If you need another reason to hire an attorney to help with your Social Security Disability case, an attorney can file your application on your time, not Social Securities. And, the wait to get help is much shorter with the attorney than it is for Social Security.
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