On May 7, 2013 an e-mail with the subject, “A Plea For Help” was sent to the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Ms. Carolyn Colvin by Douglas Ottomanelli, claims representative and union representative for the Hudson, NY field office. This e-mail briefly outlined some of the issues and frustrations facing SSA office workers across the nation.
Over a week has passed and no still no response.
My name is Douglas and I am a claims representative (CR) and the union representative for the Hudson, NY Social Security office.
The reason for my communication today is in part a plea for help. Like most offices throughout the nation we are severely understaffed. As an office we are unable to keep up with the workloads and just last week two more CRs handed in their retirement papers because they were so stressed and frustrated.
We are overwhelmed as an agency. The quality of the work we produce has decreased significantly. The errors have increased and will continue to increase in direct proportion to the increasing workloads and shrinking staff. Most importantly the public is suffering from the lack of a quality product/service and consistency and their frustration level is increasing with each passing day.
As an agency we are so very fortunate to have so many individuals who care about their work, want to do a good, and give excellent customer service. Please help us to help the citizens and residents of this great country we serve.
We need more bodies in the office to take claims, work the window, answer the phones, and work our breakdown. This is a national issue but I will talk about my office because we are a perfect example of some of the challenges facing this agency. As of July first of this year, we will be down to eight people in our office (5 CRs, 1 service representative (SR), 1 supervisor and 1 manager). Twenty-five percent of our staff is management and we are told they cannot answer the phones, work the window, take interviews, or have a breakdown. Twenty-five percent of our staff is not in production putting a tremendous burden on the remaining staff members.
We are constantly receiving e-mails for vacancy announcements for supervisors, managers and district managers, yet we never see a vacancy announcement for CRs or SRs. This is a very sore point with many staff members throughout the agency because we are the face of the agency. We are the people that the public sees and interacts with on a daily basis yet our numbers have been steadily decreasing and our anxiety and stress has been steadily increasing. As a result the public is not seeing the best SSA has to offer and their experience and confidence with the agency is diminishing.
This communication is in part a plea for help. We need more bodies and we need to adjust the system to fit the realities we are now facing.
Please help us help the public we serve.