Globe Gazette, June 29
Did you hear about the federal government’s crazy idea? OK, the latest crazy idea?
Usually we don’t get too up in arms over what we consider crazy notions, mainly because (a) Federal government, with Congress at the lead, doesn’t act very fast these days on much of anything, and (b) Changes can take months if not years to implement, and by then someone may have recognized the folly of their ways.
We certainly hope the latest idea regarding Social Security offices is one of those that dies an ignoble death, and we praise U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley and Sen. Chuck Grassley for grabbing shovels to hopefully dig its final resting place.
Here’s what has happened: The Social Security Administration announced that beginning in August it will no longer issue Social Security number printouts in its field offices. That would affect 19 such offices in Iowa. Beginning in October, those field offices will stop providing benefit verification letters except in emergency situations.
Anyone requesting such vital information would be able to do so only on the Internet or by telephone. We are talking no small matter here as last year 11 million Americans visited offices to seek out such information.
Hold on a minute — or rather a year, says Braley, who has introduced legislation to delay what he calls the harsh changes at the 19 offices, changes he believes could eventually lead to their closing.
Braley asked whether the changes would increase convenience and accessibility to services and whether they would save taxpayer money. The answer to both questions: No. A resounding no, in fact.
“There is every indication these service cuts would have an especially harsh impact on Iowa seniors who are likely to lack Internet access and face long holding times when seeking information over the phone,” he said.