Despite public outcry, SSA to close Belltown and ID offices

From Real Change

Social Security Administration (SSA) offices in Belltown and the International District will be consolidated into a new location downtown, set to open June 12.

The former locations on Lenora and South Lane streets will close at noon June 8.

The new SSA office will sit inside the Jackson Federal Building, a Level IV security building with metal detectors, where those entering are required to show state or federal picture identification and have their bags searched.

Social Security Works Washington, a coalition of organizations, fought the move into the Jackson building. (“Groups rally to stop closure of Social Security building,” Real Change, Jan. 11, 2012.) They argued that the high-security building adds an extra barrier to disabled or mentally ill clients who do not have the resources to access lower-security offices in Kent, Burien, Bellevue and North Seattle.

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, opposed consolidation in letters to Michael Astrue, SSA’s national commissioner, dated June 20, 2011, and May 7, 2012.

Rep. Jim McDermott Asks Social Security Administration to Keep Seattle Field Offices Open

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) called for a halt to the planned closure of both the Social Security Downtown field office and the Chinatown-International District field office and their planned relocation to the Jackson Federal Building.

In a letter written to Michael Astrue, the National Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, McDermott wrote:

“After hearing from my constituents on this matter in recent weeks, I remain concerned about Social Security Administration’s plans to ensure access to the Jackson Federal Building. I understand…that a community forum of more than 300 community members and Social Security officials on this matter took place as well. These constituents have since expressed to me their apprehension that the Agency is not sufficiently prepared to mitigate the anticipated access problems.”

Congressman McDermott sent a previous letter on June 20, 2011 regarding the consolidation of Social Security field offices in his district, and in it he expressed serious concerns that the proposed Jackson Federal Building may create barriers for the public in accessing services. According to the Social Security Administration Congressional Statistics for December 2011, 92,000 residents of the 7th Congressional District receive Social Security benefits and 17,600 constituents receive Supplemental Security Income.

McDermott requested the moratorium on the closure of these offices and their relocation to the Jackson Federal Building to ensure every individual has access to the services they need.

For the full text of the letter to Commissioner Astrue, click here.