Feb 3, 2008

Waiting In Dunkirk

From The Post-Journal of Jamestown, NY:
DUNKIRK — Chances are you may have filed a social security disability claim and either healed from the injury, or worse, before you ever received a check. Congressman Brian Higgins, 27th Congressional District of New York, visited the City of Dunkirk Senior Citizen Center on Friday morning to announce his proposed bill which could help alleviate several problems at the social security administration level.

“There is just an unacceptable back-log in social security disability claims and other services that people depend on here in Chautauqua County. I have a bill that I’ve introduced — with a lot of co-sponsorship — that would exercise congressional oversight over the social security administration,” Higgins said. “They have cut staffing, they have cut hours and they’re essentially cutting services and it’s unacceptable at a time where the claims for benefits are actually increasing.” ...

“We have lost staff by more than 50 percent. However, the work that we do continues to increase,” added AFGE Local 3342 President Paul Demler. “The population is not going away. It’s growing and we’re expecting over the next few years the effect of the baby-boom generation is going to increase our services by approximately 30 to 40 percent.”

Downfalls for SSA were noted as offering unreliable office hours for local administration offices and, worst of all, untimely with the processing of claims. ...

Under the SSA’s current plan, Demler says the Dunkirk office would actually close before it hired one new employee.

“Currently, the agency only has a plan to replace employees who leave at a 1:8 ratio, meaning it would require eight employees to leave before another is hired,” he said. “If you think of Dunkirk, there’s only 6 employees, they would close before ever considering to hire another employee under the 1:8 ratio. Jamestown would be down to two or three employees.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most Field office in upstate NY have lost one-half to two-thirds of their staff in the past 25 years, in the face of rising workloads. There are literally unmanned desks piled with cases not being worked because of staffing cutbacks. Offices have been reduced from over 30 employees down to as few as 10, leaving them vulnerable to closure as being "too small". If they closed, they will have to rent trucks to carry the folders to some other office which will itself be understaffed.