Letter to Senate Aging Committee on SSA Field Office Closures

2018-04-26T15:54:42+00:00April 26th, 2018|Latest News, Letters 115th|

April 26, 2018

The Honorable Susan Collins
Chairman, Special Committee on Aging
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510

The Honorable Bob Casey
Ranking Member, Special Committee on Aging
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C., 20510

Dear Senator Collins and Senator Casey:

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I write to ask that the Senate Special Committee on Aging exercise its oversight authority to examine the practice of the Social Security Administration (SSA) weakening its ability to serve the American people by systematically closing and consolidating its field offices.

I believe that the availability of conveniently located and adequately staffed Social Security field offices is crucial to providing good service to America’s seniors and to maintaining the public’s support for Social Security, Medicare, and other programs that SSA administers.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of local Social Security field offices in providing service to the American people.  Whether it’s time to file a claim for benefits or whether something has gone wrong regarding someone’s Social Security benefits, the availability of a convenient network of nearby offices is an essential element in SSA’s system of delivering services to the American people.

Sadly, since 2000, SSA has embarked on a program that has led, so far, to the closure of nearly 125 field offices nationwide.  Most recently, SSA has targeted offices in Chicago, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Arlington, Virginia, for closure or consolidation.  Closing offices in urban areas such as these causes extreme difficulty for elderly and working-class individuals who must rely on public transportation to reach another office.  For example, if the field office in Arlington, Virginia, is closed in June as is currently planned, we understand that many of the 25,000 individuals currently being served annually by this office will have to travel for nearly two hours on public transportation to reach an alternate Social Security office.

We are deeply concerned about these trends and how they will affect the quality of service that SSA will provide in the future as about 10,000 seniors turn 65 each day and file for Social Security and Medicare benefits.  As a former staff director of the Aging Committee, I know full well how effective the committee has been in overseeing federal agencies and programs and in identifying problems affecting older people and finding solutions.  Therefore, we ask that the Special Committee on Aging hold hearings that focus on the need for high-quality service from SSA and the vital importance of a strong and vibrant network of local field offices.

Sincerely,

Max Richtman

President and CEO

Cc:   The Honorable Mitch McConnell

317 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20510

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer

322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20510