Why? According to the agency, "[w]hile 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."
Note that the earlier closing times do not apply to the Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review, (the Federal Buildings where Administrative Law Judges hold hearings, also known as "ODAR"). ODARs will be maintaining their regular hours.
Some ALJ hearings are scheduled at district offices and at permanent remote hearing sites. If you have such a hearing and it is scheduled to begin after the new closing time, you should go to the location and knock on the presumably locked front door. ODAR officials tell us that security guards will be present to admit you. These officials ask that you bring the notice of hearing with you, and that your clients bring photo IDs, for the guard's inspection.
However, there is strong opposition to these budget cuts. Congress should bear in mind the latest results of a public opinion poll that found that 83% of likely voters oppose cuts to the Social Security Disability Program. A new poll commissioned by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives ("NOSSCR"), (an organization of which I am a sustaining member), found that the vast majority of likely voters support Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) and believe that Congress should target other areas of government when proposing cuts. For more information regarding this poll visit:
You may also want to read a great OpEd piece in support of the Social Security Disability Program that recently appeared in the Seattle Times: