Jul 17, 2014

"This Place Sucked" -- Now A Meeting At The White House

     From WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, FL:
... When CBS 12 News viewers kept emailing us about the really long lines at the Social Security Office on West Palm Beach's Congress Avenue, we had to see it for ourselves. 
And this is what we found today: A line out the door, of people of all ages and needs, in the hot summer sun, with an afternoon rainstorm approaching. ...
One person says they've been there four times. One time for three hours. 2 hours another time. Today's it's about 2 1/2 hours.
Another person - "About an hour a half, two hours waiting. This place sucked."
"We got here at 10 a.m.. Thought we were here for a decent time. We got here. We stood outside for an hour, an and twenty minutes at least." 
No sooner did we start asking questions did staff here attempt to chase us from the scene.
"Sir. You got to stop. You're on federal property". 
So we reached out the Social Security Administration Public Information Officer in Atlanta for answers. ...
CBS 12 is no exception to long waits for the Social Security Administration.

We called them just after 1 p.m. today and were promised a response to our story. Now, 5 hours later, we are still waiting....
      When the Public Information Officer finally returned the call, the defense was that the average wait at the West Palm Beach office was only 47 minutes.

     Update: The local member of Congress thinks that "infrastructure changes" are needed to address the problem.

     Further update: This is from the TV station this afternoon (emphasis added):
Representative Lois Frankel discussed your complaints about long wait times at the West Palm Beach SSA Field Office with the Acting Social Security Administrator (SSA) Carolyn Colvin at the White House today.
Rep. Frankel tells us the long lines are a result of sequestration budget cuts. "The situation is an example of mindless budget cuts called sequestration, and it has drastically impacted vital programs across the nation including Social Security," said Frankel.
Today, Representatives Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings and Tim Murphy—all Democrats from Florida--all sent a letter to the Southern Regional Commission of the Social Security Administration, Michael Grochowski, urging him to investigate and address long wait times at the West Palm Beach SSA Field Office.
CBS 12 has also learned the SSA field office closes to the public at noon on Wednesday, so that staff can process an abundance of paperwork.# SSA client Elizabeth Ratliffe said, “You saw them turn people away as early as 10 o’clock. As soon as I went in, they stopped letting people in."
      Maybe somebody finally noticed the parallel to what happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

As anyone in field office management at SSA knows the average waiting time is a skewed stat. We get SS card requests and ben vers out fairly quickly to lower the average rate for folks waiting 2 hours plus for redeterminations, appeals, claims without appointments, overpayments etc. If/when we get rid of ben vers (looking less likely) the average time will skyrocket and be more honest. Execs are clueless to this.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone with the news organization asked what these people were waiting in line for?

My guess is that many of them could have done what they needed to do online.

Yes, not everyone has access, but if you can get to an SSA office, chances are you can find a library or other public place with internet access.

Anonymous said...

SSA the new VA.

Anonymous said...

West palm Beach, FL?? The mecca of New York, New York? These people travel back and forth on a whim and their cases/files are everywhere and nowhere. They are some of most contrary demanding people on Earth. They are all retired and have nothign better to do than run down and question why their benefits are 3 cents less this month than last or why their cousin gets $37.00 more in their retirement check than they do. Never hurts to ask is a common response down there. The lines ar elooked at a social event for these people and are found everywhere including buffet restaurants. Oh Vey, the stories I could tell you. Pity the poor SSA workers in Florida. They deserve combat pay.

Anonymous said...

3 cents here 3 cents there - adds up.

Anonymous said...

To 12:45PM.

It doesn't due to dime down rounding. :-)

Anonymous said...

10:45

I missed that this was west palm. The conservative stronghold--the Orange County--of an otherwise rather liberal south Florida. Yeah, there are a ton of rich retirees down there with nothing better to do than wait in line and b---- about every little thing they don't like in between shopping trips to NYC or gambling in Atlantic City. I am not moved.

David Noah said...

As anybody in field office administration at SSA knows the normal holding up time is a skewed detail. We get SS card appeals and ben vers out decently fast to bring down the normal rate for people holding up 2 hours in addition to for re determinations, requests, claims without errands, excessive charges and so forth.

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Anonymous said...

SSA management knows how to count things and time things.

What they don't know is how long things should take. Writers have a "production standard" and they get measured on how well they meet it but the numbers from the standard were pulled from the same place as ALJs making 500-700 decisions per year.

Anonymous said...

This is just the beginning...