WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox applauded a bill by Rep. Bruce Braley (IA) that would delay cuts to two vital services at field offices, Social Security Number Printouts and Benefit Verification Forms.
The Social Security Number Printouts and Benefit Verification Forms are used for a variety of purposes, including car loans, mortgage applications, housing assistance and when applying for other government assistance programs.
“The Social Security Administration has never justified cuts to these two critical field office services,” said Cox. “The 11 million Americans who visited field offices specifically for these forms deserve answers, since on August 1 and October 1 the services they rely on will simply disappear.”
Rather than providing same-day, in-person service, visitors who need copies of Benefit Verification Forms will be directed to the MySSA website, a poorly designed customer service platform which requires users to go through a complicated registration process. Ultimately, nearly 1 in 3 enrollees who attempt to register on the MySSA website are rejected.
Those who need Benefit Verification Forms will also be directed to the delay-plagued 800 number, but will have to wait 7 – 10 days to receive a copy by mail – far too long for those who urgently need a hard copy of the forms for other assistance programs.
Those who want a Social Security Number Printout, an expedited way to obtain proof of your Social Security Number, will instead have to file for a completely new card, which will also take 7 – 10 days to arrive by mail.
Cox said that the SSA’s plan to direct people to its website, part of its Vision 2025 strategy, places too big a burden on at-risk populations.
“It’s important to protect the services that seniors and disabled Americans depend on,” said Cox. “SSA’s vision for the future leaves out those who need field office assistance and as more baby boomers approach retirement age, we need more service staff, not less.”
Cox emphasized that seniors should be able to choose how they work with SSA, whether in-person, on the phone or via the website.
“A large number of seniors either don’t have access to the internet or are more comfortable discussing their benefits in person,” said Cox. “They deserve to get the expertise of field office staff and local access to the benefits and services they’ve earned.”