On Thursday, July 17, 2014 the Social Security Administration announced that local Social Security offices would continue to provide benefit verification letters until further notice. Providing services when and where the public needs them remains central to Social Security’s efforts, while continuing to encourage federal, state, and local agencies to take advantage of Social Security’s data exchange programs that can serve customers more efficiently and effectively.
“We appreciate the feedback from members of Congress, our community stakeholders and agency partners. We want to ensure that we meet the needs of our customers in a way that is convenient for them and also cost-effective and secure for all,” Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin stated. “I believe that government agencies can work closer together to assist our mutual customers.”
Over the last few years, Social Security has invested in technology that allows most government agencies and many other organizations to verify their clients’ Social Security benefits electronically without requiring them to visit a local Social Security office.
“We recognize that some members of the public may require in-person assistance and we will have a presence in local communities,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “We also want to ensure that the public is aware that they can access many of our services without making a trip to a local field office.”
Members of the public with Internet access can obtain benefit verification information by creating a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Verifying your clients’ Social Security benefits is easy! This YouTube webinar is designed for advocates, social service agencies, and other third parties to help promote the use of Social Security’s online service options.
According to a recent press release from the Social Security Administration:
“Effective November 19, 2012, Social Security field offices nationwide will close to the public 30 minutes early each day.** For example, a field office that is usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. will close daily at 3:00 p.m. In addition, beginning January 2, 2013, offices will close to the public at noon every Wednesday.
While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow them to complete face-to-face interviews and process claims work without incurring the cost of overtime. The significantly reduced funding provided by Congress under the continuing resolution for the first six months of the fiscal year makes it impossible for the agency to provide the overtime needed to handle service to the public as it has done in the past.”
The release went on to say “Most Social Security services do not require a visit to a local office. Many services, including applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits, signing up for direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card, obtaining a proof of income letter or informing us of a change of address or telephone number are conveniently available at www.socialsecurity.gov or by dialing our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778. Many of our online services also are available in Spanish at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/espanol/.”
The “Medicare & You” handbook from the Social Security Administration is now available. If you have a Kindle, iPad, Nook, Sony eReader, or any other eReader, you can download it at http://goo.gl/dlkz2
Of course, if you need a paper handbook, you can always get one by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or by sending us your mailing address.