Social Security Cuts Affect Customer Service

Recent cuts to Social Security have resulted in the closure of offices in some ares. Many areas that had a field office meant seniors could receive help in-person instead of using the Internet or the phone. The use of a computer is often not an option for some seniors who may be living in poverty. The impacts of budget cuts have led to the closure of 64 field offices in the past five years.

The Social Security Administration is also reducing or eliminating some in-person services which were once offered in local contact stations. There is a strategy being developed by the SSA to deliver needed services to seniors. The availability of in-person services will be “limited” as the SSA plans to offer the necessary services using the Internet and “self-service delivery.”

A Senate committee investigation discovered the process of office consolidation by the SSA was not an ideal solution as there was little transparency, clear criteria, and no community feedback. Many seniors in local communities were both angered and deeply frustrated. Any problems faced by seniors with any Social Security benefits means a choice of buying food or necessary medications.

The workload of the SSA is growing each year as baby boomers are retiring. Claims filed in 2013 were 27 percent higher than in 2007. However, there are 11,000 fewer workers now than just three years ago and staffing is uneven due to hiring freezes. The SSA has received less money the past 16 years than its budget requests have indicated. The SSA operated with 88 percent of the 11.4 million than requested in their 2012 budget.

Their budget was somewhat restored in 2014 to 11.4 billion and the amount requested for 2015 is set at 12 billion. However, adequate service is still an ongoing problem. The tax dollars of Americans is used to fund Social Security benefits and the customer service that is provided.

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