Saturday, May 12, 2018

Republicans can't do away with Social Security, so they're cutting its offices

Since 2000, the Social Security Administration has been forced to close one out of 10 of its field offices—125 offices out of 1,250—because of budget cuts. Since Republicans have been unable to cut the benefits themselves, they've gone after the SSA.

In addition, all 533 Social Security Administration "contact sites"—locations that serve remote, rural populations on a weekly or monthly basis—have closed, said leaders of the union that represents Social Security employees.
The most recent closures, which have not been publicly announced, come on the heels of the shutdown of offices in Milwaukee and Chicago in the past year, which elected officials also protested to no avail. An SSA spokeswoman attributed the Arlington closure to an expiring lease and an inability to find space nearby—an explanation that elected officials in Virginia dispute. […]
In a letter they sent last week to Nancy A. Berryhill, the SSA's deputy commissioner of operations, six Democratic state lawmakers who represent Arlington said the Edsall Road office "is much less accessible to Arlington residents, and already serves large constituencies in Alexandria and Fairfax."
 "Those with the most complicated cases and greatest need often benefit from in-person services," said the letter, signed by Dels. Alfonso Lopez, Mark Levine and Patrick Hope and Sens. Adam Ebbin, Barbara Favola and Janet Howell. "Many of these individuals are also among the least mobile and the most dependent on public transportation."

Since 2010, the SSA has also lost 3,500 staff, and the Trump administration wants to cut another 1,000. This means horrible wait time for the people who manage to get to a field office, or even those trying to access help through the phone. This isn't a population that's well-connected to the internet, the supposed solution to these cutbacks. Seniors still lag well behind other age groups in internet use and access.

This is no accident. Destroying popular, effective government agencies is the GOP’s thing. Destroying this one, making people unhappy and distrustful of Social Security, is how they are slow but surely chipping away at it.

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