Another cost-cutting move is in the works at the Social Security Administration, where almost 1,300 field offices will soon begin closing to the public one half hour earlier each business day. The change, which takes effect Aug. 15, means that an office that has been open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will close to the public at 3:30, according to a news release.
Although Social Security employees will keep working their normal schedules, the “shorter public window” will help the agency avoid paying overtime, SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue said in the release. Because Congress provided the Social Security Administration with nearly $1 billion less than the amount requested by President Obama for fiscal 2011, Astrue added, that shortfall “makes it impossible for us to provide the amount of overtime needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past.” The amount of expected savings was not immediately available.
Last July, Astrue imposed a partial hiring freeze on the agency and in March stopped mailing earnings and benefits statements to the public.
Of course, not all Social Security services take an office visit, the release notes, but you’ll need a phone or an Internet-connected computer. Anyone wanting to apply for benefits, replace a Medicare card, sign up for direct deposit, obtain a proof of income letter, or provide a change of address or phone number, can do so by going to http://www.socialsecurity.gov or calling the agency’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778.)