Budget cuts have forced the Social Security Administration to close field offices just as boomers are retiring and filing disability and retirement claims in record numbers, according to a report by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which held a hearing on the issue yesterday.
While people can file for benefits online, plenty of older people prefer some human interaction when taking the big step of claiming Social Security. The Social Security Administration served more than 43 million visitors at its field offices in fiscal year 2013, according to the report (although not all these people were filing for retirement benefits). Retirees also use the offices to get replacement cards or ask questions about their benefits.
Historically, folks didn’t have to go to far to visit one of the country’s field offices. Yet over the past five years, the agency has shuttered about 60 of these field offices–leaving 1,245 offices left in 2014–and has also closed 533 temporary mobile offices, according to the Senate report.