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Social Security: Field offices to verify benefits

Thursday - 7/17/2014, 7:21pm  ET

STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bowing to pressure from Congress, the Social Security Administration said Thursday its field offices will continue issuing statements that recipients can use to verify their benefits.

People sometimes need the information quickly to verify their income when applying for a loan or other government benefits, such as housing assistance.

The field offices were scheduled to stop issuing the statements in October as part of Social Security's efforts to provide more services online. But acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin said Thursday the agency recognizes that some people require help in person.

"We appreciate the feedback from members of Congress, our community stakeholders and agency partners," Colvin said in a statement. "We want to ensure that we meet the needs of our customers in a way that is convenient for them and also cost-effective and secure for all."

A recent congressional report said 5 million people a year visit Social Security offices to obtain the statements.

The report said Social Security has closed 64 field offices since 2010. The agency still operates 1,245 offices.

"I'm glad the Social Security Administration has listened to our seniors' concerns," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate aging committee. "As the agency pushes more people online to conduct their business, we need to make sure our most vulnerable citizens are not being left high and dry."

Colvin took over as acting commissioner in February 2013. In June, President Barack Obama nominated her to full term.

She would serve into the next administration if she is confirmed by the Senate and completes the six-year term.

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Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap


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