The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Linda Benesch,

Congress Must Fully Fund the Reopening & Expansion of Social Security Field Offices


The following is a statement from Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, on the reports that Social Security workers will return to field offices at the end of March:

"Like post offices and public libraries, Social Security field offices provide essential services to the American people. Consequently, it is welcome news that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is planning to reopen the offices to the public as soon as it can, while prioritizing the safety of beneficiaries and workers.

Reopening field offices is just the beginning, though. Even before the pandemic, Social Security was facing a customer service crisis, due to underfunding by (largely Republican controlled) Congresses. Between 2010 and 2021, SSA's operating budget shrunk by 13 percent even as the number of beneficiaries grew by 22 percent. These cuts took place despite Social Security's accumulated surplus of $2.9 trillion, funds available to pay those operating costs without adding a penny to the federal debt.

As Social Security field offices reopen, they will face a backlog of disability claims, which decreased significantly during the pandemic (likely due to the difficulty of applying without in-person assistance). Long COVID, the continued retirement of the baby boomers, and the provision of survivors benefits to the families of pandemic victims mean that SSA can expect an even larger amount of work in the years to come.

Congress must allow SSA to spend enough of Social Security's $2.9 trillion accumulated surplus to not just safely reopen offices, but expand both the workforce and the number of offices. The American people have earned, paid for and deserve first class service."

Social Security Works' mission is to: Protect and improve the economic security of disadvantaged and at-risk populations; Safeguard the economic security of those dependent, now or in the future, on Social Security; and Maintain Social Security as a vehicle of social justice.