On Wednesday, June 18, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing to examine the impact of recent Social Security field office closures and service cuts. In conjunction with the hearing, the Alliance for Retired Americans and its coalition partner Social Security Works gathered 95,000 petition signatures (http://tinyurl.com/qe9nfl6 and http://tinyurl.com/kqdltmf) directing Congress to provide full funding to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and keep Social Security offices open.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is the Chairman of the Committee, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is the Ranking Member. The hearing, the culmination of a bipartisan investigation into service reductions at the SSA, comes as baby boomers are filing record numbers of retirement, disability and survivor claims with the agency. Despite the rising demand, the SSA is in the midst of the largest five-year decline in field offices in its 79-year history. Budget cuts have, in part, led the agency to close 64 field offices and 533 temporary mobile offices since 2010. The SSA has also shed some 11,000 workers over the last three years and continues to reduce or eliminate a variety of in-person services.
“Americans came together to create the Social Security system to provide a basic, reliable foundation for retirement and disability,” said Doug Hart, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans President. “Closing field offices and making it more difficult to access benefits information is an attempt to dismantle that foundation. It’s time to stop it. It’s only a matter of time before Arizona offices are included.”
“The SSA is funded the same way Social Security benefits are—with payroll taxes that all workers pay,” Mr. Hart added. “Its expenses have no impact on the federal debt, and represent less than 1% of Social Security’s annual expenditures. But Congress has still cut fourteen of the last sixteen SSA budget requests! And now, these cuts are being felt, as the Social Security Administration is forced to shutter dozens of field offices around the country.”