I can succinctly sum up the attitude of Social Security Administration agents when addressing the question of when to begin benefits. In fact, I can do so in just four words:  "Um …I’m not sure.”

The agents can’t provide advice—period— despite their hard work and dedication and regardless of Americans’ penchant for asking questions. It’s a problem, and a look behind the scenes at the agency reveals clues as to how it evolved this way.

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