May 11, 2020

When To Reopen Social Security Field Offices? Union Says Never

     From Bloomberg Law:
Telework at the Social Security Administration is boosting call center answer rates and otherwise improving customer service, the leader of a union that represents about 25,000 field office and call center workers says.
The agency should allow employees to continue teleworking to the maximum extent possible even after the Covid-19 pandemic abates, said Ralph de Juliis, president of Council 220 of the American Federation of Government Employees. The union is asking the agency to consider a plan that would allow the SSA to close most of its 1,300 field offices in the U.S. and save hundreds of millions of dollars on facility costs, he said. Though the agency has clashed with its unions in the past over telework, de Juliis said he’s hopeful agency officials are seeing the benefits now that most employees are working from home. 
“If they want to go that way, they have the union’s support,” he said. ...

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You really ought to consider changing that headline. The article you've quoted does not state that the union is suggesting SSA never reopen any of its field offices. Additionally, while I read the text under your headline, many readers will not, leaving them with the false impression that union leadership is part of the (non-existent) movement to keep everything closed forever due to the pandemic, a myth being perpetuated by certain parts of society who believe that "liberals" want to keep everything closed forever in an effort to hurt the president's chances for re-election.

Anonymous said...

Feel like this will happen in the future. Maybe not right now. Many senior citizens are not accustomed to using online services just yet. But they definitely could cut a lot of local SSA offices. Wave of the future.

Anonymous said...

There's no U in Bloomberg.

This sounds like a media tactic rather than a firm policy goal. The union pres is forcing Saul's long absent hand in order to win back that which Saul so nastily took away a month before the pandemic hit. Good work by the union pres.

Wish the AALJ had a president with as many media contacts as the AFGE pres.

Anonymous said...

Once they reopen they should consider having dedicated FAX machines and copiers available in the public areas so that claimants can fax in their forms and medical records to the various DDSs as well as whatever reports the field offices themselves need. This would save a lot of time for SSA personnel
And would prevent the current ...before Corona... Situation where the field office loses or does not submit the records claimant's bring in. Also when claimant's do apply in person they can equip them with bar code sheets up front

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4:17 PM, May 11, 2020

Great idea! With all the brainpower in Baltimore you would have thought that they would have thought of that.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a winner for those who want to make certain that a US citizen never gets to have contact with a real live person ever again. I'm certain this will spill over to hearings also. If the IRS is an example we will go from live hell when under sourced to the hell of the unending on hold phone call or the unworkable electronic website. I find the IRS to be impossible to do business with under any circumstance nowadays. Can't get them on the phone and usually can't enter their electronic system. Big Brother working at his finest. I know-- He really wants to help us with our problem and our satisfaction and well being are his greatest concern. Care to take a satisfaction survey at the end of this call? Let no disaster go to waste!!

Anonymous said...

ALmost 100% of the people going into the field offices can pick up a phone and use it. As someone else mentioned they need a system where paperwork can be dropped off immediatly and a receipt can be given. In addition if everyone is going to be on the phone then they should be forced to give out some type of operator identification number. None of this we don't give out names nonsense. Also all claimants also have the right to record the phone calls on their end.Centralize all the problem issues that are too technical and confusing for the field offices. Not their fault neccessarily but if something is sitting at a field office for more than 90 days then it's not a field office issue. Keep it simple. For those who have problems using computers set up a navigator or local outreach nonprofit contractor. They can probably do it more quickly and less expensive. Anything that is not quick assembly line SVP 1-3 thinking take out of the field offices and create national expertise areas with people smart enough to be able to learn all the nuances and unique circumstances that come about

Anonymous said...


Fax machines and copiers are high touch areas and likely a source of coronavirus transmission.
If anything SSA should think of ways to remove the machines already in the PC and FO. There are workarounds and these machines are old technology.

If you read the article DeJulius isn't really saying never to reopen SSA, he's saying selective reopening with max use of telework for those positions where the employee can work from home. If someone is doing their job from home they should not be asked to come into a FO, TSC, or PC, where they could become infected and then infect others.

This disease kills people and has health consequences even for those who survive it. Until there is a vaccine then max telework should continue to keep employees, their families safe at home.

Also they need to rewrite the "OPM Guidance" on reopening federal agencies. OPM states age 65+ should be allowed to continue to telework. Absurd, the increased risk for COVID-19 begins around age 50 not age 65. This type of guidance seems written with the goal of minimizing the number of employees who would be eligible for telework. There are not even that many federal employees age 65+.

Anonymous said...

I dont like working from home. I hate it. It contaminates my house, my house is my refuge, it is where I go to be AWAY from work. To see the work piled up, to see where I have to sit 8 to 10 hours a day is horrible. I do not want to work at home.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:03 AM - I recommend setting aside a room for work and shutting the door after you finish your shift. Out of sight, (maybe) out of mind.

Anonymous said...

Office hours by appointment only!!!