SSA Office Closures Mean More Hardship for Seniors

Oct 2, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Without Social Security, more than 40% of elderly Americans would live in poverty. That’s according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), which says the data underscores just how important Social Security is, and without it, how millions of Americans would slip into destitution. Kathleen Romig, CBPP senior policy analyst, says moving online has likely kept countless citizens who have become eligible for benefits from applying. “A lot of people don’t know they’re eligible, or just can’t handle the application process on their own.”

“The SSA (Social Security Administration) shutdown its field offices (roughly 1,200 of them) six months ago and moved online. That makes sense,” Romig says, “because it’s not safe for SSA employees and its beneficiaries who are disproportionately vulnerable to this virus, since they’re primarily elderly and disabled.” But at the very time when people need help the most, it’s harder to get it. The result? Suffering, and for some, the descent into poverty likely ensues.

In the past, when one field office closed for whatever reason, applications went down in that community. So when all 1,200 close for half-a-year—and counting—the number of people affected is huge. This situation seems destined to continue for at least several more months, given data that shows the pandemic —after taking some 200,000 lives already—now shows possibility of entering a dreaded “second wave.”

Much of the media, with its focus on politics as nothing more than a horse race—who’s ahead, who’s behind?—has barely focused on this. It should. There’s no single federal program that is more essential, and impacts more people, more regularly.

You can find the full article at MarketWatch.


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