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Rhinelander Social Security office opens for first time since start of pandemic

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Like many businesses at the beginning of the pandemic, the Social Security Administration closed its offices across the country, including the one in Rhinelander.

But unlike like many others, it didn’t reopen until just this month.

The administration was still handling cases by phone or online, but Max Richtman says that wasn’t cutting it for most people.

Richtman is the CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

He says people the call lines and website have a backlog of cases they’re working through.

“We’ve heard from many people who have been waiting wondering how long they’ll have to continue waiting. This is not a new problem,” he said.

Richtman says the backlog and delays have been going on for years and was just compounded by the pandemic.

He blames lack of funding from the federal government.

While the number of people using social security has increased over the years, funding has dropped.

“The program has not had sufficient funding from Congress and the White House for many, many years. In the last 10 years, the administrative budget for social security, adjusted for inflation has decreased by 13 percent,” said Richtman.

Adding to the issue, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare says the Social Security Administration has lost 1,500 employees during the pandemic.

That’s why Richtman advises people to wait if they can before going to the office in Rhinelander.

“There is obviously a huge pent-up demand from that constituency that have been waiting for over two years to get into an office,” said Richtman. “If you don’t absolutely have to go right away to a Social Security Office, if there’s something you can put off doing or can do online or by telephone, that would make sense.”

The Rhinelander office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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