In the last few years, the Social Security Administration has seen an increase in the number of applications for benefits in all of its programs. From retirement to disability, the administration has struggled for months now to clear its backlog and provide benefits to millions of Americans across the United States.
But an uncertainty regarding the budget has conflicted with the increased workload, which has caused the administration to make some rather difficult decisions like limiting services offered at many sites and even closing offices across the nation.
As some of our Cook County readers may know, Illinois was supposed to feel the effects of this recently when the SSA announced that it was planning to “discontinue providing benefits verification letters and Social Security number printouts.” That is until U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos stepped in.
In a June 20 letter to Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, Bustos expressed concerns about shutting down these services in field offices across the state by pointing out that this would limit opportunities for face-to-face interactions. With the push toward online services, Bustos also pointed out that terminating some services might create problems for households that did not have the technology necessary to access online services.
Although Colvin stressed concerns regarding these SSA offices and their affect on the budget, she agreed that shutting down the services in Illinois could create far-reaching problems for many beneficiaries. In her letter to the representative, she noted that some residents rely on the field offices for immediate assistance or for data exchanges. Without local offices from which to receive help, some people could encounter problems accessing their benefits.
Though there are no plans to close anymore offices at this time, Colvin did point out that the agency would reconsider the situation in the state at a later date to determine if the offices should remain open or if the need for them is no longer required.
Source: The Rock River Times, “Social Security Administration reverses decision to cut field office services,” July 18, 2014