Concerns plan could mean longer lines

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — As people file in and out of the Social Security office on a Monday, one man says they could soon have waits longer than the hour they sometimes have now.

“You’re talking about a substantial wait period,” says Rick Hanna, Vice-President of the local American Federation of Government Employees.

Hanna says a plan being looked at by the Social Security Administration called Vision 2025 wants to do away with most of the offices around the country.

He says Ohio’s now 56 offices could be reduced to only a handful.

“What you’d be looking at would be 4 or 5 offices in the state of Ohio,” Hanna says.

Instead of office visits, the plan calls for more people to use Social Security’s online services. The Social Security Administration says it already receives about half of applications online.

But Hanna worries that not enough people would go online.

“The direction to go strictly with the Internet while it does have merits, it’s extremely troublesome for many people who would want to file for Social Security,” Hanna says.

Hanna says the online process can sometimes be more difficult because of the mistakes many make without someone to walk them through it.

“Social Security benefits and the programs are very complex and we’re finding with disability claims 95 percent have errors where we have to recontact them,” Hanna says.

The Social Security Administration says it’s, “fully committed – now and in the future – to sustaining a field office structure that provides face-to-face service and is responsive to members of the public who need or prefer face-to-face service. At the same time, we understand that the service expectations of the public are evolving, and we need to meet these changing expectations as the demand for our service grows.”

The administration says the potential changes are part of the National Academy of Public Administration’s recommendations for the agency. The administration plans to do its own plan which it will release in October.

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