VIDEO: You May Miss Out On Benefits If Social Security Offices Close

If the Social Security Administration replaces its field offices with Internet services and an 800 phone number, it may hit you in the wallet. Jane Slaughter explains. Video: The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow.

“It’s not just whether you have access to a computer, or whether you consider yourself tech-savvy,” Jane Slaughter explained on The Zero Hour (video at left).

“Even if you are, the Social Security workers of today have been rigorously trained in how to figure out exactly what your benefit is… When people file for their Social Security benefits only online, too often they end up cheating themselves out of part of their benefit.”

Slaughter was talking about Vision 2025, the scheme to close most of the Social Security Administration’s more than 1,000 community field offices, replacing them with Internet services and an 800 phone number.

Social Security worker Jim Campana breaks it down:

The 800 number, now plagued with long wait times, would likely be automated. Beneficiaries would have to navigate through questions before they could speak with a live representative. And the Government Employees union (AFGE) suspects SSA would outsource the call centers to other countries.

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The confusing MySSA website poses its own challenges. Till now, beneficiaries have been able to get documents such as verification of Social Security numbers and verification of benefits received simply by going to a field office and asking for them.

Such records are often needed the same day, to obtain mortgages, apply for jobs, and qualify for federal aid programs. Going through the SSA website, it could take a week or more for the most common types of documents to show up in physical form in a requester’s mailbox.

And later this year, SSA already plans to stop issuing these simple verifications at field offices—requiring instead an online or phone contact, and then a wait.

“The plan makes the assumption that in the year 2025 people will want to conduct all their business via the Internet and will not leave their houses,” said Matt Perlinger, a claims rep in Omaha.

Read the full article here. Hear more from Slaughter in the seven-minute interview, above.