18 thoughts on “Forbes Post, “Let’s Close More Social Security Field Offices”

  1. before I applied for SS last month I made several calls to the local SS office to ask questions, and made a phone appointment with the local office (I thought I would be going in person) to actually file…theoretically your take on the situation is correct, however SS is much too complex to file without getting answers beforehand, and likely during the actual filing…I think I would not want to try and get correct answers to these questions from someone at the “local VFW”…

    1. The notion that field offices are not needed is pushed by people that do not want Social Security to survive. Even those who are not mentally ill, mentally retarded, or less than fully literate are usually better off having a Social Security claims representative do their application. Virtually every mistake and shortcut can cost an applicant a lot of money. For example, disabled ex-husband who never earned very much may actually have a higher primary insurance amount than a widow’s healthy second ex-husband because of the way disability benefits are calculated. Contributions to a foreign social insurance program can make a huge difference. Adopted grandchildren may well be eligible for dependent benefits. Social Security law is complex. A claim’s rep’s basic training is 12 weeks, and full journeyman ability is not usually reached in under 2 years.

      There is another ultra-right scheme to privatize the Social Security Administration and many other agencies. That is to make employment so unattractive that top people will not stay. Already President Trump has issued 3 executive orders depriving employees of protection against being fired for arbitrary reasons or no reason at all. Legislation is in committee in the House to drastically cut benefits and pensions that provide the security that attracted many employees. Many recent college grads already treat civil service jobs as stopgaps while they seek private sector positions that offer more money, more opportunities for advancement and more prestige. The conditions that created the “good government job” have been largely whittled away over the years. The “Outstanding Scholar” hiring program first lowered its standards (Can a B student really be called outstanding?) and then dropped altogether.

    1. You ccan apply on line but its ifdiotic to do so as they make you come into the anyway.
      Call ( If you get through it can take hours ) At an appointment and failing that just go into your local office and wait because applying online is ridiculous they require you to go in and be seen in person for security reasons.

      It should not be done that way it you should be able to apply online and get your benefits but since 9/11 everybody is paranoid about proving that you’re not a terrorist or you didn’t swim across the Rio Grande or about identity theft.

      1. They have you come in because 90 percent of applications done online have to be fixed or require evidence not already on the computer. Social Security employees would much rather not ha e to call you in because they are rated on how fast they process the claim. Putting the claim on the computer is just one step in getting the checks started. You just don’t see the work done afterwards. Many people qualify for more than one kind of benefit and many authorizations must be calculated and input manually.

  2. Stunningly naive is an understatement. Jane the Actuary is anotherr elitist who has never had to walk in 100F heat to strraighten out a problem.
    AND if you apply for benefits on line as someone I know just did, they REQUIRE you to go INTO the office in PERSON for security reasons to verify your id.
    Like too many self-styled “experts “ out there, Jane the Fatuous needs to check FACTS before she ever writes
    a single word about a subject that she is woefully misinformed about.
    Get away frrom your device and go to a Social Security Office on the bus or on foot and get your earnings statement in perrson and see what it is like to wait for hours to be seen and ask beneficiaries what they go through and scrap this article and start over.
    My girlfriend has to go 10 miles on a bus to the nearest office.
    Many seniors do not have a car or cannot drive.

  3. There are many reasons, Social Security requires you to go I yI the local office. If you have Medicare Part A and want to add Medicare Part B, you are required to bring 3 items: 1 form applying for Medicare Part B, 2nd form completed by your employer indicating the day you had insurance coverage. You can mail the paperwork to the local office, but you have no guarantee the mail with actually get there and be processed in 2 days. If you mail the paperwork, your paperwork will take at least 1 month or longer to process. If Social Security requires additional forms to be completed. Then you mail them to the local office, the local office takes 4-6 weeks to process and you have no guarantee how long your paperwork will take to process. Social security processes paperwork for people who drop by in person, first. Mailed in paperwork is processed last at the local Social Security office. After all the people come into the local office, any paperwork that was mailed to the local office, is processed at the end of the day. That is why mailed in paperwork is processed last, and takes double the processing time, verses anyone who walks into the local office and waits in line to speak to a window social security agent, and afterwards gives the window agent their completed paperwork.

  4. Your article is part of the anti- humanistic movement that the tech wizards love. They are only here for personal gain and could care less about OLDER DISPOSABLE HUMAN BEINGS. They are jamming tech down our throats and ONLINE IS NOT EASY. If one does not input perfectly , it eats hours of your life.
    I WANT HUMAN CONTACT – but the Billilonaires who vote thenselves tax cuts ARE TOO CHEAP AND SELFISH TO PAY THEM. They don’t care about society – they have their private getaways and survival food stash. Much of congress is a whore for the rich Please do not dupport their vision.

  5. You are stunningly naive. Before you support closing any more offices, spend a week working in a field office to see what they do. Then spend another week answering the 800 number for Social Security, Then spend another week volunteering to help elderly and disabled people to solve their variety of Social Security and Medicare problems online. Ask them who would do the computer work if you do not do it for them. Go with them by public transportation to the closest Social Security office and stand in line with them. Then we can talk about solutions. (No I do not work for Social Security)

  6. Respectfully, you have no clue. I recently retired from SSA after 43 years of service. I was a Technical Expert and heavily involved in complex claims and post-entitlement issues. As I was stationed in a District Office, I was constantly involved with the public. SSA claims matters and benefit options are far more involved than you realize and part of our historical reputation for exemplary public service involves carefully evaluating any and all benefits to which the public may be entitled. We protect people and we protect the Trust Funds. We stand on the front line against fraud (what are referred to as “Anomolous” claims). I state unevivocally that at crucial times in their lives (retirement, disability, the death of a loved one), people deserve the time, attention, and expertise of the best and brightest that the government can provide in a setting that insures both privacy and integrity.

  7. I’d like to know your motivation for wanting to close SS offices. The administration of SS is all FICA-funded, just like benefit payments.

    The real crux of the “problem” with SS has everything to do with the borrowing of the trust fund. Legislators and their corporate benefactors don’t want to pay back what was borrowed.

    Since they haven’t been successful in cutting benefits outright, they attack the program from a different angle.

    There’s zero legitimacy in cutting benefits in any way or defunding the SSA/closing field offices. Doing so in the presence of the program’s massive suplus constitutes fraud and embezzlement. The repudiation of the trust fund and its $2.9 trillion in U.S. government bonds.

  8. I wouldn’t say you are naïve, but rather, you are not privy to information that those of us who work for the Agency are privy to. As someone else noted, Social Security, particularly in terms of determining someone’s eligibility for it and for SSI, can be a complex thing that is not always able to navigated simply by being online. Of course, while no hearing offices are being closed, those awaiting a hearing on their eligibility, usually for disability, must go to the hearing office in person for their hearing. I don’t believe that anyone who works for SSA, from the Commissioner on down, would argue that we receive enough money to do the job as quickly and accurately as it should be done. There comes a point where more bodies are needed to do the work, and all the computerization in the world won’t change that. I have worked for the federal government for almost 34 years, and for SSA almost 31 years, and I don’t recall a time since I started when we were told that we had plenty of money and could do anything we needed to do. Of course, that will probably never happen, but at some point, I think both taxpayers and politicians will need to decide whether they want to fund this Agency as it should be to do the job properly and without unacceptable delays, or whether they are happy with the status quo or want to abolish Social Security altogether.

  9. Hi Jane!
    Stunningly Naïve? I’d say no. But, it ought to take a lot to by stunningly anything. I do believe you are naïve on the topic. SSA will cite many of the same talking points you have in justifying the forced migration of people to online services and office closings. Here are a couple stats: in 2008, when SSA had far fewer online services, 42 million people visited offices. In 2016, 43 million people visited offices despite there being, as you put in, just about no reason to go in because it can all be done online. That shows people WANT to conduct business as it relates to one of the biggest decisions affecting the rest of their life in person.
    But what’s more, you talk about how the concept of seniors having trouble using the internet etc. is a myth, or at least exaggerated. You say they can get help from a younger person in the family etc.
    What you ignore is not that someone might be able to get through the online application-but whether they will get through it correctly, having made decisions that do not disadvantage themselves and fully understanding the rules and regulations of the complex programs.
    As someone who has represented SSA workers for many years, and as someone who has done the work, this is not the case. Should we be OK with forcing people online just to keep them out of offices-or worse, there’s no longer an office to go to-at the expense of them making a bad decision that would effect them for the remainder of their life? I don’t believe we should.
    I can also personally attest to routinely helping people FIX problems that were created because they didn’t understand the ramifications of the choices that they made in their online applications, including substantial overpayments and choosing the wrong time to file.

    The idea that we should be viewing this whole situation as whether a senior can “get through” an online application is woefully short of what we should be looking at. And none of this considers the significant disadvantage this poses to the poor and disabled.

  10. Would you advise anyone to plan their financial future without ever talking to a financial planner, an insurance agent, or an investment banker? Why not, there is plenty of information online.

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