Social Security extends field office hours

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 The Social Security Administration says a budget increase this year will allow it to keep field offices open an extra hour on most weekdays, starting in March.

After years of cutbacks, the agency said it will restore service hours nationwide on March 16. A field office that is usually open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will stay open until 4 p.m. on every weekday except Wednesday.

Field offices will continue to close at noon on Wednesdays.

Members of Congress complained last year after learning that Social Security had closed dozens of field offices even as millions of baby boomers were approaching retirement. The agency has more than 1,200 offices.

Much can be done online

Social Security says most business can be done online, including applying for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits.

For example, Social Security beneficiaries are now able to obtain a replacement SSA-1099 from the agency’s website. Social Security sends SSA-1099s each January to everyone who receives Social Security benefits. It shows the total amount of benefits paid in the previous year and is used for tax purposes.

“Beginning this tax season, any Social Security accountholder who misplaces their original SSA-1099 will be able to request an instant replacement from our menu of online services,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security.

Previously, people who lost their SSA-1099 had to call or visit a Social Security office to get a replacement or request that one be mailed to them. With this new online service, people now only need to create a “my Social Security” account, or log into their existing one.

My Social Security is a secure, online account people use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits.

Once the account is created, it is used by people who are working to keep track of their earnings and to get estimates of future benefits. People already receiving benefits manage them with their account — changing their address, starting or changing direct deposit, getting a benefit verification letter, and more.

For more information, visit  www.social security.gov/myaccount.