The federal government certainly made a counterproductive decision to close dozens of Social Security Administration field offices just as a tidal wave of baby boomers is hitting retirement age.
Baby boomers make up the 78 million Americans born from 1946 to 1964. Already millions are reaching retirement age with this year’s group being born in 1949.
But cuts in federal funding show that 64 Social Security field offices have been closed since 2010, The Associated Press reports. The Senate Special Committee on Aging issued a bipartisan report on the matter.
In addition, Social Security has shuttered more than 500 temporary mobile offices, many in remote, rural areas. Hours also have been reduced in the 1,245 field offices that remain open, the committee report notes.
People can access Social Security online. But with the job market being horrible for older workers and people’s ability to make ends meet being at stake, individuals are demanding to talk face to face with a real human being.
The cutbacks are making that difficult. Social Security officials should know better than most how boomers have created major problems for many segments of the United States, overwhelming hospitals when they were born and swamping neighborhoods and schools with their numbers. Boomers crowded colleges and the job market.
They overheated the car, housing and retail markets, the banking and financial systems and tourism and travel industries. Social Security and retirement communities are the next front.
Already more than 47 million people receive Social Security retirement benefits, up almost 20 percent from 10 years ago. In addition, about 11 million people get Social Security disability benefits, up nearly 40 percent from 10 years ago.
About half of retirement applications in 2013 were filed online, the committee report said. Last year more than 43 million people visited Social Security field offices — 43 percent wanting an appointment to speak to a real person had to wait more than three weeks. That was up from only 10 percent in 2012, the report noted.
All of the numbers are moving in the wrong direction especially as more boomers are retiring, seeking Social Security benefits each year. This is not a group that lawmakers want to make angry.