Senate Aging Committee Leaders Respond to SSA Announcement on Benefit Verification Letters
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, issued the following statements in response the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) announcement today that it will continue to provide benefit verification letters at the agency’s field offices.
Today’s announcement reverses an a decision the agency made in March to stop providing benefit verification letters beginning October 1.
“This is a welcome decision,” said Nelson. “I’m glad the Social Security Administration has listened to our seniors’ concerns. As the agency pushes more people online to conduct their business, we need to make sure our most vulnerable citizens are not being left high and dry. “I will continue to fight to ensure that our seniors have the option to receive face-to-face services.”
Senator Collins called today’s announcement “good news that will help ensure that current and future retirees continue to have access to this very important service of their local Social Security office.”
Today’s announcement comes in the wake of a hearing the Special Committee on Aging held last month that examined the impact of Social Security field office closures and service cuts. During the hearing the panel issued a report that found SSA in the midst of the largest five-year decline in field offices in its 79-year history. It also found that that agency had closed 64 field offices and 533 temporary mobile offices since 2010 and continues to reduce or eliminate a variety of in-person services while trying to shift seniors and others online to conduct their business.
Below is the SSA’s announcement from today. To read the committee’s bipartisan staff investigation on SSA service reductions and office closures click here.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014
For Immediate Release
LaVenia J. LaVelle, Press Officer
Social Security Extends Access to Benefit Verification
Multiple Options Available
Today, 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.
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