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Posted: September 29, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Social Security hearing office opens in Covington

A Social Security Administration office opened in Covington Sept. 7 bringing 54 jobs to Newton County and reducing wait times for those awaiting or appealing disability decisions.

Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue dedicated the building, located on Covington ByPass Road, Monday morning and told the assembled crowd that the office would further reduce the 469-day wait time to hear a disability benefits case or appeal. His goal is to reduce the hearing time to around 300 days.

The Covington office is the third one located in the Metro Atlanta region, which had the second highest appeal wait time in the U.S., at around 900 days, when Astrue became commissioner in early 2007. The office will serve residents in DeKalb, Henry, Morgan, Newton and Rockdale counties.

The hearing office will open down the street from the existing Covington SS field office and will be primarily for judges to conduct hearings on whether residents receive benefits from any of the numerous SS programs. The waiting period is important, especially for citizens seeking disability benefits, because they are often unable to work and, therefore, become financially strained quickly.

The impending collapse of SS has been bandied about for years, but Astrue said the system should be fully funded through 2037 and assuming, no change in funding, would still be able to operate 78 percent of capacity. However, Astrue said SS was never meant to fully fund a person’s retirement, only about 40 percent, and he encouraged people to plan ahead.

He said people can visit socialsecurity.gov to use the site’s life expectancy and benefit calculators. He also recommended mymoney.gov, which can help educate residents about how to save and prepare for retirement even at a young age.

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