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Watchdog claims poor service and closed Social Security offices

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is under a lot of heat from senators, a watchdog group, and from people within the agency for poor customer service and a large number of offices being closed. The group of senators, from the Senate Special Committee on Aging, want to know why the agency has closed almost 125 field offices since 2000 and want to know how customer service can be improved as more and more people turn 65.

A recent report from the SSA inspector general found that two regional agency hearing offices had low morale of staff, processing times with high averages, problems with telework, low staffing levels, issues with the quality of work performed by the support staff and issues with claimant representatives.

The regions examined in the report included New York, which has 16 offices in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico across 16 offices and Atlanta, which has 37 offices in eight states. The report looked at data from 2016, which found that the 88 percent of the New York region offices had times that were above-average when it came to processing. The Atlanta region offices had above-average processing times 65 percent of the time. That trend continued on into 2017.

The SSA did not say much about the report but did mention that it would respond directly to the SSA inspector general about the report. A spokesperson for the SSA did say that from January 2017 to April 2018 the agency was able to lower the number of people who were waiting for a decision on a hearing.

Social Security Disability can be difficult to obtain, especially when offices across the country are closing at an alarming rate. Be sure you have all of your information ready prior to submitting your application for these benefits so you reduce the risk of having it declined.

Source: Washington Post, "Senators, watchdog hit Social Security over closed offices and poor service," May 15, 2018

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