Due to the tight budget situation, we have been forced to make difficult choices related to our service delivery to the public. The latest decision is that, beginning August 15, 2011, we will close Social Security field offices to the public 30 minutes early each day. For example, a field office that is usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm will now close daily at 3:30 pm.
Reducing hours will allow our field office employees, who will continue to work their regular hours, to complete face-to-face service activities like interviews without using overtime. In fiscal year 2011, our funding was nearly $1 billion less than the President’s budget request. This shortfall has made it very difficult to provide the amount of overtime that our usual business process requires.
Field offices have lost nearly 1600 workers over the past nine months, and we cannot afford to replace that staff. As a small measure to help deal with those losses, we will close field offices to the public on Friday, November 25, 2011. Field office employees who work on that day will use the day for backlog reduction. As we try to adapt to these difficult fiscal times, we need to remind the public that they can find many services and get up-to-date information online or via our 800 number. Between our easy-to-use services online at www.socialsecurity.gov, our toll-free national 800 number at 1-800-772-1213 and TTY number at 1-800-325-0778, or through the mail, we now can provide virtually all of our services by other means.
In order to inform the public of the change, we are implementing a comprehensive communications plan. This plan will include a national press release, local press releases, and local outreach efforts from our field offices.
We will also update our website to reflect this change. In addition to these efforts, we ask that you assist us by communicating the “change” or “change in hours” and Social Security’s online and phone service options directly to your constituents.
I hope that the information I have provided is helpful. If you have any questions or if I can be of further assistance, please contact me at 212.264.2502.
NY Regional communications Director
Social Security Administration