In this paper, the Board examines field office closures, and urges Social Security to clarify its decision-making process, increase transparency, and involve the public in its deliberations about field office closures. Throughout Social Security’s history, the public has relied on services provided through local Social Security field offices.
Part I describes the history of the Social Security field office network, as well as the agency’s phone and online services. Part II reviews Social Security’s response to repeated Congressional concerns about the agency’s process for deciding to close field offices. Part III addresses the implications of Social Security’s decisions in the context of recent research that analyzes the impact of field office closures on the quality of and public’s access to Social Security’s services. In its conclusion, the Board urges Social Security to clarify its decision-making process, increase transparency, and involve the public in its deliberations about field office closures.
This paper is the first in a series of work by the Board on the quality and accessibility of Social Security’s service to the public. To view the other work in this series, visit the Series Preface page.