Examining Social Security’s Service to the Public:
Decisions Regarding Field Office Closures
Series Preface Summary: As part of its statutory responsibility to examine the quality of the Social Security’s service to the public and its obligation to make recommendations on how to improve those services, the Board is preparing a series of work on Social Security’s service to the public. This preface provides context for that series. The Board encourages Social Security to use evidence-based measures to evaluate and appropriately provide quality and accessible service in field offices, over the phone, and through online channels.
Field Office Closures Paper Summary: In this paper, the first in the series, the Board examines 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.
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Series Preface, Figure 1
Field Office Closures Paper, Figure 1