Beginning next week, the Social Security Administration will be expanding its field office hours for nearly every day of the week. SSA announced the change after Congress recently approved a new agency budget for fiscal year 2015.
Effective on March 16, 2015, field offices that are currently open from 9 AM to 3 PM will now remain open until 4 PM. Offices will continue to close at noon on Wednesdays to allow employees time to complete current work and to reduce backlogs.
In recent years, we had witnessed the reduction of field office hours, which made it more difficult to reach SSA employees in person or by telephone. SSA explained that these cutbacks were the result of budget cuts, growing case backlogs, and staffing losses. With the new approved budget, SSA has been able to reverse some of those changes, including reinstituting the longer office hours and, for some offices, adding additional staff members.
If you need to speak with someone at the Social Security Administration, you can find the number for your closest field office by going to www.ssa.gov and clicking on "Online Services," followed by "Locate an Office."
You can also call SSA's national hotline number at 1-800-772-1213. However, we have found over the years that the staff at the local office level may be the most knowledgeable to assist with your questions.
I recently had the opportunity to go "behind the scenes" at one of our local Columbus field offices, and I was shocked at how many empty desks and cubicles I saw. This, of course, is related to budget cuts occuring in recent years and certainly is not because of a reduction in new claims or agency workload. Hopefully in coming years, Congress will continue to recognize the importance of an agency budget that can not only expand office hours but which will start to fill those empty desks with sorely needed SSA staff!