Due to widespread budget cuts, the Social Security Administration will be cutting hours of operation at the 1,233 field offices for the second time in two years.  Nearly 180,000 daily visitors to these local offices for a variety of services will feel the impact.

Beginning November 19, 2012, the agency field offices will close 30 minutes earlier each day, at 3:00 p.m. instead of 3:30 p.m.  Starting next year, the offices will close at noon on Wednesdays.  These cuts are intended to target overtime costs, as employees need to stay late when visitors to the office arrive just before closing time.   The agency stopped sending annual statements to workers last year.  Customer service cuts have been common among many public agencies during sluggish economic recovery

Service cuts are a top concern for disability and retirement advocates, because demographic changes are causing an increase in the demand for services.  While the agency is recommending that individuals apply for benefits electronically, older and disabled individuals do not necessarily have the equipment or knowledge do to so.  Shorter hours at offices will shortchange beneficiaries and applicants, many of whom are people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities or on the verge of retirement.

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