In recent years, the Social Security Administration has reduced its Field Office hours due to budgetary cuts. Apparently due to a new influx of funds, the Agency now claims that it will expand its office hours. This is obviously good news. However, I wouldn't start celebrating yet. Over the past few months I have seen such a drastic decline in the quality of the services provided, that I think that its going to take a major overhaul of the Agency for there to be any meaningful improvement.
"This expansion of office hours reaffirms our commitment to providing the people we serve the option of top-notch, face-to-face assistance in field offices even as we work to expand online services for those who prefer that flexibility," said Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security.
Well Commissioner, how about picking up the phone at ODARs? (ODAR stands for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review; these are the offices that handle Social Security Disability hearings.) ODAR offices routinely let all their calls go into voice mail. Social Security Disability Lawyers like myself find it extremely frustrating to communicate with the hearing office because they just don't pick up the phone.
According to a press release from the SSA, Field Offices will be open to the public for an additional hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, staring on March 16th. This supposedly means that an office that is regularly open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. will now remain open until 4:00 p.m.
Offices will continue to close early at noon on Wednesdays.
If possible, I urge claimants not to visit Field Offices and use internet or phone services instead. Although dealing with the Agency is always frustrating, you might be better off if you use their toll free number 1-800-772-1213 or visit their website at www.socialsecurity.gov.