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Social Security Strain

Since fiscal year 2010, Social Security has closed 67 field offices across rural and urban areas in America. These closures have resulted in limited access to the field offices still operating, increased wait-times at the offices and on the Social Security Administration’s hotline, and long delays for hearings and appeals.

If you think this is a problem now, imagine what it will be like over the next two decades as the country ages, and, per SSA estimates, beneficiary rolls increase 43%. And do not forget about the backlog that already plagues SSA.

Increased wait times can have devastating effects. Sometimes, claimants waiting for a final decision are forced to declare bankruptcy and lose their lifetimes of savings. Other times, people die because their conditions are so aggressive.

And as more and more offices are closed, institutional knowledge is lost. Most of the workers who have been let go were the agency’s longest-serving employees.

Kathleen Romig, who is a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities observed: “Every year, the Social Security Administration is being asked to do more with less. As a result, many of their long-term priorities are suffering, such as working down the very large backlog in disability appeals, and modernizing their technology. They can really focus only on getting checks out and even there, they are showing real signs of strain.”

Social Security provides benefits to one million more beneficiaries each year.