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Aug 30, 2014

Senator Wants Public Notice And Comment On Office Closures

     From The Hill:
A bill awaiting Congress when it returns from its August recess would attempt to slow field office closures at the Social Security Administration, an agency that has shuttered more than 60 facilities in recent years.
The 2014 Social Security Access Act, introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., aims to bring more community input into the closure process. The bill would require SSA to provide 180 days’ notice to “all individuals residing in areas serviced” by any field office subject to any “reduction in access.” ...
Schumer’s bill would create a public comment period and require SSA to hold at least one public hearing a month after disseminating information to constituents about an upcoming closure. The agency would have to post online and provide in writing to local members of Congress and other elected officials a range of information about the decision, including the number of SSA employees affected, the number of people who visit the office, Internet access in the region, transportation options to the next closest facility, projected cost savings and the estimated cost of co-locating with another federal agency instead of the proposed closure.
The SSA commissioner would also have to submit a report to Congress justifying the closure, and findings made as a result of the public comments or meeting.

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  • Jul 23, 2014

    West Palm Beach Employees Suing Building Owner

         The bizarre West Palm Beach saga continues. From the local television station:
    Almost two dozen employees of the West Palm Beach Social Security Administration’s office are suing the building’s owner.
    CBS 12 News has obtained a copy of a lawsuit filed last year in which 22 employees and a security guard claim the building made them sick.
    As CBS-12 News was first to report, staff at the West Palm Beach SSA branch are being dispatched to other SSA offices as the agency looks for a new building to house their operation.
    The move stems from what the SSA alleges are problems with the building which is leased to the government by Carnegie Management and Development Corporation.
    In the 118 page complaint filed last year, the staff members allege the building had substantial water leaks causing extensive water intrusion; that in 2009, mold, mildew and fungus were discovered inside the building; and that staffers suffered damages including mental pain and suffering, permanent injury and loss of earnings.
    Carnegie Management and Development CEO Dr. Rustom Khouri says the claims are absolutely bogus.

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  • Jul 22, 2014

    West Palm Beach Office Closes

         From WPEC:
    If you need to get anything done at the West Palm Beach branch of the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, you might have to go elsewhere for services.

    It's the latest twist in an ongoing CBS 12 News investigation that began after we exposed long wait times at the West Palm Beach office.

    An SSA spokesperson says the SSA is scaling back services at this branch because of recurring maintenance and HVAC issues with the building. ...
    CBS-12 News first began investigating issues at the West Palm Beach SSA last week after folks told us they were being forced to wait two, three, and sometimes four hours in the hot sun and rain.

    After U.S. Members of Congress who learned of our story demanded the SSA address the issue of long wait times, the office suddenly closed Thursday then reopened.

    The SSA tells us they're looking to relocate the West Palm Beach office.

    CBS-12 has learned that some staff members are suing the buildings' owner Carnegie Management & Development Corp and alleging the building is making them sick.
         OK, if it was ventilation problems that closed the office, why was it that the closure happened almost immediately after a TV station broadcast pictures of lines of people waiting outside the office? Also, why did it take the agency so long to tell the TV station why the office was closed?

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  • Jul 9, 2014

    Senator Collins Wants To Keep Field Offices Open

         Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has authored an op ed for a Maine newspaper opposing office closings and the elimination of face to face contact at Social Security. However, she doesn't say anything about additional appropriations for the agency. Reading the piece, you get the impression that the only problem is foolish decisions made at the Social Security Administration. Republicans either actively deny that there's a link between appropriations and agency operations or they just ignore the issue altogether.

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  • Jun 24, 2014

    Today's Office Closure News

         Local officials in Northern Erie County, NY are so upset by the closing of Social Security's Amherst, NY field office that they're setting up a link to the nearest Social Security field office via Skype at a local government site. The site will only be open a few hours, one or two days a week but locals it's better than nothing. The Amherst field office had served 36,000 people a year.
         Meanwhile, the Salem News wonders why it is that Social Security gets more money each year and claims to be getting more efficient but is still closing field offices. They conclude that no one should be surprised because "It is the federal government, after all." The Salem News misses a few points. Social Security's budget hasn't been going up each year. It's been going down when you consider inflation even though the agency's workload has gone up dramatically because of the aging of the baby boom population but, hey, what are a few details like that?

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  • Apr 1, 2014

    Tea Party Don't Care

         Social Security field office closes. Tea Party Republican representing the District in Congress doesn't seem to care. Why should he? He wants to close down virtually the entire government. Anyway, that part of his District has mostly Democratic voters. He's got the Koch brothers on his side, so no problem. (By the way, I know that Social Security doesn't base field office closures on political clout and has taken a pretty hard line recently when those with political clout have tried to influence field office closures. Somebody's ox is going to get gored. The agency may as well use objective criteria when selecting whose ox it is. The point here is that the Congressman made no effort to keep that field office open. Most people would consider making that effort to be part of his job description.)
         Update: The Tea Party member of Congress wrote a letter to the Acting Commissioner of Social Security about the office closure. So, is the Congressman representing his district or just being a hypocrite? That's the problem with being a Tea Party member of Congress. You want to close down government but your constituents like a lot of what the government does for them.

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  • Mar 18, 2014

    Barstow Field Office To Close

         The Barstow, CA Social Security field office is to close next week. It will be a 70 mile round trip to the nearest Social Security office. 
         The comments to the article are exactly the sort of thing seen in comments on this blog. All budget cuts that cause pain are President Obama's fault. That's ridiculous since austerity has been forced upon the country by Republicans in the House of Representatives. If pressed, those who post these comments say that Democrats control the White House and the Senate so everything bad must be Obama's fault. The logic is absurd, of course, but the consistency of these comments is amazing. It's the same thing everywhere you look. I don't think this is an accident. Someone is paying a lot of money to services that spread this sort of thing.

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  • Mar 5, 2014

    They Want A Meeting

         Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins have requested a meeting with Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin to discuss the closing of Social Security's Amherst, NY field office.

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  • Jan 31, 2014

    Another NY Field Office To Close

         Social Security plans to close its office in Ulster County, NY even though 39% of the county's population receives either Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Local politicians are unhappy. These office closures are an inevitable consequence of the limited funding being given to the agency.

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  • Jan 17, 2014

    Another Field Office Closure

         The Amherst, NY Social Security field office is to close. Local politicians aren't happy.

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  • Nov 6, 2013

    What's The Matter, Kansas? You Got What You Voted For

         The residents of Pittsburg, Kansas are up in arms that they're losing their local Social Security field office. Social Security management explains to them that they have to close offices because of lack of funding. Pittsburgers complain that they weren't consulted. Social Security management doesn't give the obvious answer so I'll give it. Kansas is a solidly Republican state, giving 60% of its vote to Romney over Obama and electing only Republicans to Congress. You were consulted on this and other cuts you don't like, Pittsburg, and you voted for them, so shut up.

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  • Oct 3, 2013

    ESPN Hometown Takes A Hit

         Social Security's field office in Bristol, CT is to be closed in January. Local politicians will try to get the decision reversed. ESPN is headquartered in Bristol.

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  • Sep 14, 2013

    Pittsburg Office Closing

         The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Pittsburg, Kansas Social Security field office is closing.

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  • May 9, 2013

    "There Must Have Been A Thousand People Just Sitting There Waiting"

         From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
    Robin Blount walked up to what used to be a Social Security Administration field office in North Philadelphia this week and was shocked and angry.  ...
    A sign inside the gates read: "The Social Security Administration field office previously operating at this location IS NOW CLOSED."
    People were advised to visit the Social Security office in Center City at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, 2 Penn Center, for service.
    "I just went down there," Blount, 52, cried out in frustration. "It was so crowded downtown - there must have been a thousand people just sitting there waiting.

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  • May 3, 2013

    Philadelphia Office Closed

         From KYW:
    Some North Philadelphia residents were surprised today to find their local Social Security Administration office shuttered, the result of a tighter federal budget and sequestration.
    Since October, the Social Security Administration has closed three of its offices in the Philadelphia region. ...
    The office served about 100 people a day, roughly 26,000 a year ...
    The Social Security Administration responded to KYW Newsradio‘s request for information today with a written statement saying, “Tighter budget, including cuts due to sequestration, have exacerbated our ability to serve members of the public who need our services, resulting in longer waiting times.” 

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  • Apr 15, 2013

    A Satellite Office Closes

         From West Hawaii Today:
    For the last time in the foreseeable future, the Social Security Administration offered satellite office hours in Kona Tuesday morning.
    Social Security employees began calling West Hawaii residents in to the West Hawaii Civic Center’s community room at about 9:30 a.m. By just after 10 a.m., more than 120 people were signed up to use the services. ...
    Last year, then-Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-2nd, told West Hawaii Today she would look into the administration’s reasoning for keeping such limited hours in West Hawaii. Not long after that, the administration ended the visits to West Hawaii entirely. They resumed the monthly visits in February, with the intention of coming here only through this month.
         It's a two hour drive from Kona to Hilo, the nearest Social Security field office.
         This same sort of thing is happening all over the country.  This is what inadequate budget resources do to service at Social Security. Read the whole article to see what those waiting in line thought about the idea of doing all their business with Social Security online.

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  • Mar 15, 2013

    This Is What You Voted For, Oklahoma!

         From KXII in Oklahoma:
    The Social Security Administration is closing a Texoma office, citing federal budget cuts and less foot traffic as reasons for the closure.
     Allison Harris spoke with Hugo city leaders who are appealing this closure, saying it's undue and will be a burden for people in the area.
     Hugo city leaders are concerned that southern Oklahomans will be deprived access to social security support. ...
    City manager Jeff Rabon says the Social Security Administration is closing its Hugo office in June, consolidating it with the Paris office. ...
    "You know, we all breathe the same air, to quote President Kennedy, 'We pay the same taxes;' we don't want to see any services diminished." ...
    The consolidation would force many elderly people in the area to either go online for social security help, or drive further -- by up to 85 miles -- to the Paris office.
    "We feel like it's our responsibility to represent the people of our area to say, wait a minute, you know, we already struggle for access to services as it is; it's either Durant or to McAlester or, you know, Oklahoma City or Tulsa," Rabon said.
    We spoke with an employee at the Hugo office who says many of their clients don't have access to the Internet, nor the resources to drive further to the Paris office.
    "A lot of them don't even know how to use a computer. They're very upset over it, they say, 'what are we going to do without this?'

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  • Dec 3, 2012

    East Memphis Office To Close

         From the Memphis Flyer:
    If all goes as planned, the Social Security office in East Memphis will close on December 28th, leaving 75,000 beneficiaries with the burden of traveling miles away to receive assistance.
     The East Memphis office, located on Players Club Parkway, is slated to close due to administrative budget cuts.
     The closure is estimated to save $300,000 annually....
    On an average day, the office sees more than 150 walk-ins and receives more than 500 telephone calls.  ...
    "Much of our administrative costs are to fund our employees and facilities across the country, and these cuts make it challenging to acquire and maintain adequate staffing," said Frank Viera, deputy regional communications director for the Social Security Administration. "Last fiscal year, we lost more than 4,000 federal and state employees, including more than 1,600 field office employees. We cannot afford to replace these employees, and we cannot continue to keep as many facilities operating as in prior years."

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  • Nov 29, 2012

    Plaquemine Field Office To Close

         The Social Security Administration is closing its field office in Plaquemine, LA on December 14 to save $4 million a year.

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  • Nov 20, 2012

    Employees Protest Closure Of Memphis Office

         From WREG:
    About a dozen government union workers holding signs pleading with the feral (sic) government to keep the east Memphis Social Security office open, lined Players Club Parkway Monday.
    The parking lot is full, but the doors are expected to close December 28th.
    “The agency stated they could save 300,000 dollars a year. With all the budget cuts, they needed to shut the office down,” said American Federation of Government Employees local president, Peter Harris. ...
    Three offices will remain open in Memphis.

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