AFGE and the National Social Security Council Say Social Security Administration Office Closures Could Limit Access for Thousands
Offices in Mississippi; Alaska; Kentucky; Washington, DC; Georgia; and Iowa slated to close September 30.
(Washington) – Representatives from the National Social Security Council say that planned closures at Social Security Administration (SSA) could limit access to social security offices for thousands of Americans.
Offices in Biloxi, Mississippi; Ketchikan, Alaska; Louisville, KY; Shepherd Park, DC; Moultrie, GA; and Clinton, IA, are slated to close September 30, 2012, leaving thousands of Americans without access to benefits information, SSA resources, and service representatives. Two offices in Seattle have already been consolidated, which resulted in service downgrades to seniors and the disabled in that area.
“These closings will really devastate the communities,” said National Social Security Council President Witold Skwiercynzski. “SSA should be in the business of making sure that offices are available to help people that have been paying into Social Security for years.”
The SSA says the office closings are due to budget cuts at the agency. Recent efforts to lower costs have led to moving many forms and resources online. However, the Council claims that these forms are confusing and not accessible to citizens without Internet access, making it difficult for people to access the services they need.
SSA claims that citizens who need to physically go to SSA offices can go to the nearest office, but residents using the Ketchikan, Alaska, office will have to travel 300 miles to visit the next closest SSA office in Juneau. Likewise, social security recipients who are disabled or who take the bus to and from local SSA offices may not be able to access other facilities.
“We don’t need less offices, we need a lot more,” said Skwiercynzski. “Millions of baby boomers are reaching retirement and thousands of veterans are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. These people need and deserve easy access to social security offices and to their earned benefits and resources.”
“SSA occupies over 40 Area Director offices that are full of high graded management officials who provide no direct service to the public. SSA could close these offices and consolidate them with existing space in the regional office and save millions. Instead the agency seems more interested in damaging communities by closing full service SSA offices and forcing the public to fend for themselves on the Internet or to travel inordinate distances to complete their Social Security business,” said Skwiercynzski.
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The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 625,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
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