Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

November 17, 2012

Nationwide

Social Security offices across the country cutting hours

The Cumberland Social Security office’s announcement that it is reducing its hours of operation is not merely a local action — offices nationwide are doing the same.

Beginning Monday the office at 217 Glenn St. in Cumberland will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, a reduction of 30 minutes a day. On Jan. 2, the office also will close to the public at noon every Wednesday.

The announcement of the reduced hours noted that the shorter public window will allow employees to complete face-to-face interviews and process claims without incurring the cost of overtime. They will still work their regular hours. The significantly reduced funding provided by Congress makes it impossible for the agency to provide the overtime needed to handle service to the public as it has done in the past.

On Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving, all Social Security field offices will be closed to the public. Employees who work that day will focus on reducing backlogged workloads.

Times are changing, and the reality is that many people are no longer visiting the Social Security office. Instead they use the Internet to access services such as applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits; signing up for direct deposit; replacing a Medicare card; obtaining a proof-of-income letter; or reporting a change of address or telephone number.

Online changes can be made at www.socialsecurity.gov or via telephone at 800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-325-0778. Many online services are available in Spanish at www.segurosocial.gov.

The Social Security Administration already requires people signing up for Social Security payments to receive their benefits through a direct deposit system. As the Internet becomes more prevalent, it will be surprising if local Social Security offices don’t dramatically reduce their hours as a move toward cost-cutting and efficiency.

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