Time is money: Let’s open Social Security field offices, not close them

social security card on dollar bills
Image: 401kcalculator.org via Flickr Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/ayZi8V

Thanks to determined, effective resistance by the American people, opponents of Social Security have failed so far to cut our earned benefits. But those opponents have succeeded in forcing neighborhood field offices to close, making those earned benefits more difficult to access.

Under Republican control, Congressional budget cuts to the Social Security Administration (SSA) have resulted in field office closings, massive layoffs, and workload backlogs. Fortunately, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) has introduced legislation to reverse that death by a thousand cuts.

Moore, whose constituents on the south side of Milwaukee saw the shuttering of their field office, has recently introduced H.R. 7146, the Maintain Access to Vital Social Security Services Act. That important legislation would require SSA to operate a sufficient number of field offices and employ an adequate number of personnel at each field office to provide convenient and accessible services to the public while minimizing wait times.

In addition, the bill would create important checks on a Social Security commissioner who is considering closing a field office. H.R. 7146 would shift the decision-making process from behind closed doors into public view. Once this bill becomes law, SSA will have to provide public notification before a proposed closure, separately notify all relevant elected officials, hold at least two public hearings, and write a public report, if SSA decided to move forward with the closure. This sort of transparency is critical for SSA and Congress to truly understand the potential harm caused by closing or consolidating SSA field offices.

Read more (The Hill) »

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