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Social Security Office Hours Trimmed

You have 30 minutes less each day to apply for benefits, appeal rulings

Social Security offices around the country now close to the public 30 minutes earlier starting Aug. 15, a cost-saving measure brought on by congressional budget cuts.

See also: Social Security benefits go electronic.

Under the new schedule, most field offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., instead of 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, the Social Security Administration announced.

Several other administrative cutbacks are also under way even as nearly 8,000 boomers turn 65 every day and the number of Americans applying for benefits increases.

Social Security's budget for fiscal year 2011 is $11.4 billion and covers the cost of operating Social Security's coast-to-coast network of offices. It does not fund benefits.

"Congress provided our agency with nearly $1 billion less than the President requested for our budget this fiscal year, which makes it impossible for us to provide the amount of overtime needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past," said Michael J. Astrue, commissioner of Social Security, in a statement.

The reduced hours for the public window will allow Social Security to save on overtime for employees, who will continue to work their regular hours.

Most services, however, no longer require people to visit an office. Applying for retirement or disability benefits, signing up for direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card and other services can be done online or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Next: Other changes that may affect you. >>

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