Since 2011, Social Security has lost nearly 11,000 employees, and weekly field office hours have been reduced from 35 to 27. I read about this in LifeHealthPro, a magazine for the insurance industry.
The article summarizes a report on Social Security:
From July 2011 to November 2013, average wait times at field offices more than doubled, from 14.4 minutes to 30.5 minutes.
Reduced hours limited the time available for appointments, resulting in clients waiting two months to be seen.
Fewer hours led to longer lines that sometimes stretched outside the doors of field offices.
As for people waiting two months to get an appointment in a local Social Security office, most of my clients in Tucson, AZ have said they were told they could not make an appointment. When they called 800-772-1213, they were told to go into the local office and wait. I can say from personal experience that the wait will be at least two hours.
Most people turning 65 can and should enroll in Medicare on line. Same goes for signing up to receive Social Security benefits. But if paperwork needs to be presented (like the story I just wrote about Wendy and her name change), people need to go into a local office so they know their paperwork was received and put into the system.
My clients who have gone to the local Social Security offices in Tucson (there are two of them) have had only good things to say about the service they received. They did say the wait was long – but worth it to know they had been enrolled in Medicare right there on the spot.
When applying for Medicare on line, I suggest you start at Medicare.gov because there is a link that takes you directly to the right page at SSA.gov. The SSA.gov home page has too much information to easily figure out which link you need to use. Here’s a picture of the Medicare.gov home page and link: