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How SSA office closures may affect you

Last month, a congressional report was released which indicates that the Social Security Administration has been compelled to make some challenging restructuring decisions in recent years. Specifically, the SSA has essentially been forced to close a staggering number of field offices because it no longer possesses an adequate operating budget. Unfortunately, these closures may affect far more Americans than one might initially believe.

Since 2010, the SSA has closed 64 field offices nationwide. This reduction represents the greatest number of field office closures in history when calculated in five-year increments. These closures were initiated in addition to the closure of 533 mobile SSA offices used to service remote, rural areas of the country.

When a SSA field office closes, individuals who are applying for Social Security Disability benefits and those who are receiving them have fewer resources to turn to when they have questions or concerns. As a result, wait times at those offices which remain open are becoming much longer than usual. Given that individuals who receive SSD benefits are already struggling with debilitating medical conditions, navigating extremely long wait times can be agonizing.

It seems that these wait times will not become shorter anytime soon. In addition to a record number of field office closures, the remaining 1,245 field offices nationwide have cut back staff hours across the board. As a result, you should contact your attorney if you need him or her to resolve any SSD-related issues you have if you cannot handle navigating these wait times on your own given your current state of health.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Social Security closes record number of field offices even as demand for services soars,” Stephen Ohlemacher, June 17, 2014

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