WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) led 121 of their Congressional colleagues in sending a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) Acting Administrator Carolyn W. Colvin, urging her to reconsider impending cutbacks that will severely restrict access to SSA services. Those cutbacks – ending in-person requests for verification statements and copies of Social Security Numbers (known as Numi-lites) from SSA offices – take effect this fall. In 2013 alone, 11 million people relied on field offices for immediate access to this information.
The letter comes on the heels of a Senate hearing and report that found SSA is closing field offices and restricting access to online only even as the need grows and many older Americans are not able to properly access the online services.
“Forcing people to request Social Security Numbers and verification statements either online or phone leaves too many without access at all,” said Rep. Grijalva. “This is likely to harm the most vulnerable among us, who may not have the access or ability to request these documents online or by the phone. The Social Security Administration funding shortages must be addressed, however this is not an answer to those problems and will only add to wait times and strain already stressed call centers.”
The letter argues in part:
Middle class Americans have regular need for the benefit verification statement for tax purposes, car loans, mortgages or rental agreements. Additionally, these forms are used in applying for low income benefits, housing, or workforce programs. And unemployed job seekers may need proof of their Social Security numbers quickly, without having to wait for a Social Security card to arrive in the mail, to make sure that they don’t miss out on jobs when potential employers are moving quickly.
“Americans rely on their earned Social Security benefits and on the services they receive at their local Social Security offices,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “Especially at this time of increased demand, we should provide the resources to improve those services, not reduce them. That is why I am proud to join with Rep. Grijalva and over 120 of my colleagues to ask that the Social Security Administration reconsider its proposal, continue access to in-person benefit verification, and work with us to determine how we can best meet our constituents’ Social Security needs.”
The full text of the letter can be read here.