Access To Social Security Services Reduced Again

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Struggling with ongoing budget cuts, the Social Security Administration has once again restricted services for Rim Country retirees.

Sixteen months ago, the Social Security Administration stopped visits to Payson Town Hall in response to Congressional budget cuts, said an official with the Social Security office in Mesa.

At the time, administrators told Payson residents they could still do their business over the phone, by calling the Mesa office’s toll-free number — 1-800-772-1213 or using the website at www.socialsecurity.gov. Seniors without a computer, could use the machines at both the Payson and Pine Public Libraries.

If all else fails, Rim Country residents could head for the Social Security Office at 702 W. Jerome in Mesa.

Now, that office will cut its hours of operation. Effective Nov. 19, the Arizona Social Security offices close 30 minutes earlier —- shrinking the office hours on weekdays to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The offices will also close on Thanksgiving and Nov. 23, the day after. Employees will spend the day trying to reduce backlogged workloads.

In addition, beginning Jan. 2, 2013, the 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 reduce overtime. Social Security officials said they just couldn’t continue normal operations with the significantly reduced funding provided by Congress under the continuing resolution for the first six months of the fiscal year.  

Most Social Security services do not require a visit to a local office.  Services like applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits, signing up for direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card, obtaining a proof of income letter or providing a change of address can all be handled at www.socialsecurity .gov or by dialing 1-800-772-1213.  The deaf and hard-of-hearing can call the TTY number, 1-800-325-0778. Many online services also are available in Spanish at www.segurosocial .gov.

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