Business hours changing at two government offices

            Business hours will change in the next two weeks at two government offices, officials announced this week.

Beginning Monday, many Washington County government offices will slice 30 minutes off their business hours, opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 4:30 p.m., according to county spokeswoman Yvonne Klinnert.

County government offices had been open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Klinnert said.

On Nov. 19, Minnesota Social Security offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, another 30-minute reduction in hours each weekday. SSA Regional Communications Director Carmen M. Moreno also said SSA offices will close at noon Wednesdays beginning Jan. 2.

Both Klinnert and Moreno said the business hour reductions are due in part to people using the Internet to access county and SSA services.

Klinnert said the most offices at the Stillwater Government Center and the county’s Cottage Grove and Forest Lake service centers are included in the business hour change. But the new hours will not affect the county’s license centers, women and infants (WIC) clinics and Environmental Center.

Klinnert said the business hour change was done in response to less public traffic at county offices between 4:30 and 5 p.m. and to reduce personnel costs.

“As more services are being delivered online, and with the opening of county service centers in the northern and southern areas of the county, the demand for in-person services during the last half-hour of the business day has not been high,” Klinnert said.

The SSA’s Moreno said reduced funding from Congress under the continuing resolution for the first six months of the federal government’s fiscal year prevents the agency from providing employees overtime.

“While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow them to complete face-to-face interviews and process claims without incurring the cost of overtime,” she said.

Moreno also said all SSA offices will be closed Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving Day, to allow employees to “focus on reducing backlogged cases.”

“Most Social Security services do not require a visit to a local office,” Moreno said. “Many services, including applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits, signing up for direct deposit, replacing a Medicare care, obtaining a proof of income letter or informing us of a change of address or telephone number are conveniently available at www.socialsecurity.gov or by dialing our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213,” she said.

Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing can call the SSA TTY number, 1-800-325-0778 and many SSA online services are available in Spanish at www.segurosocial.gov, Moreno added.

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