The Social Security Administration will not be the same in 10 years. They have a plan that is rapidly unfolding and some of this is detailed in their “Vision 2025” strategic plan.
You might have heard a little about this already. The Administration has a webpage devoted to it — but to really get into the meat of what the Social Security Administration plans to do next, you have to dive into the supporting studies.
Let’s take a look together in this article. I’ll help you cover the entire spectrum of what the Social Security Administration (or SSA) has in the works… and what I see as the biggest challenge to getting this off the ground.
Is the Social Security Administration Closing Up Shop? (They Certainly Are Closing Offices…)
You may be able to guess what’s coming next if you’ve seen some of the numbers that I have. Let’s recap if you’ve missed them:
- Since 2000, the SSA closed 125 of its field offices
- It’s closed all 500+ offices that were set up to serve rural isolated communities
- SSA employees are leaving too. Why?…probably because More than one-third of Social Security Administration employees are eligible for retirement now. Within 5 years, that number will increase to 45% of their senior-level staff.
That’s nearly half of their most experienced employees! This seems like bad timing when you combine all of this with the fact that the number of people needing the services of the Social Security Administration skyrocketed recently.
In fact, by the year 2030, one in five US residents will be retirement age — and will need the services of the SSA.
The IRS Can Give Us Clues to What’s Next for SSA
If the SSA is closing field offices and employees are leaving — but demand for their services is at an all time high, what’s their plan?
Although they don’t say it directly, it appears that the SSA will go the same route as the Internal Revenue Service.
Several years ago, the IRS maintained what they referred to as “walk-in sites” where you could go and get help with tax questions. Now they are called Taxpayer Assistance Centers and you have to have an appointment to see anyone.
That is, you can make an appointment and see someone if you happen to have a Taxpayer Assistance Center close to you.
Over the past several years, the IRS closed many of these sites. Today, there are only about 300 left. And in the IRS directory of these centers, the IRS plainly says “nearly every tax issue can now be resolved online or by phone from the convenience of your home or office.”
The same thing is happening with the SSA.
The Ultimate End-Goal of the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration is currently pushing all recipients to start using their online mySSA account instead of making a trip to the local office.
Their headline image on the SSA.gov homepage is a happy couple looking at a computer with the caption “putting you in control…learn what you can do online.”
On this same page, they even have a video by Suze Orman on “why creating an account is important.” This push to drive everyone online and out of physical offices is working, too.
Online services have grown from 46.3 million transactions in 2013 to 163 million transactions in 2018. Make no mistake…the SSA is changing how they interact with you. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they closed all field offices in the near future — or at least all field offices outside of the major population centers.
This is where I’d like to hear your thoughts. Do you think it’s a good idea to close the Social Security Administration’s field offices?
Is the Social Security Administration’s Push to Online Accounts a Good or Bad Idea?
I think it has pros and cons — but hey, let’s just face the truth here, and admit that the technicians in those offices are a mixed bag. Some are awesome! Others? Not so much.
And if you look at employer rating sites like Indeed or Glassdoor you’ll see plenty of reviews from current and former SSA employees that aren’t very flattering.
If you’ve ever been in one of those SSA offices and found yourself thinking, “You know, I don’t think this person likes their job” …there is a very good chance they do not like their job — and I’m not convinced that losing the ability to sit across the desk from these employees is going to end up causing much harm to Social Security recipients.
One thing is for sure: as the SSA changes their methods, you will need to learn and know more about their system!
Getting educated is the best way to stay safe. You don’t have to know everything, but if you know the basics you’ll be able to spot a potential problem and get it fixed before it gets out of hand.
There are a few books you should own so you’re well-versed in the Social Security system. Here are some of my favorites to help you get started:
- Social Security Basics
- Social Security Made Simple
- Social Security for Dummies
- Social Security: The Inside Story
Continue to educate yourself beyond just reading these titles. Not sure where to start? Watch every video on my YouTube channel, and don’t miss any of the new ones: subscribe and click the notifications bell to make sure you catch them all!