Thursday marked the 79th birthday of Social Security, a government program for which there is equal parts fondness and unease. While doubts regarding the program’s sustainability grow stronger, its public service has declined, hit by the same budget cuts that have impacted government agencies and small business owners alike. A new audit revealed that, since 2011, SSA’s staff size has decreased by nearly 11,000 employees, and weekly field office hours have dropped from 35 to 27. Furthermore:
· From July 2011 to November 2013, average wait times at field offices more than doubled, from 14.4 minutes to 30.5 minutes
· Reduced hours limited the time available for appointments, resulting in clients waiting two months to be seen
· Fewer hours led to longer lines that sometimes stretched outside the doors of field offices.
With service like this, clients are more likely than ever to have unanswered questions about Social Security. Equipping yourself and your team to advise on claiming strategies and answer common benefit questions is a differentiator that will not go unnoticed, particularly as the wave of boomer retirees grows.
Have you noticed this need in your practice? What are the most common Social Security questions you hear from clients and prospects? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.