Congressman Concerned Shut Down Would Create Access Issues for WNY Seniors and People with Disabilities
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is pledging to fight a plan by the Social Security Administration to close their field office in Amherst, New York.
“The announced closing of the Amherst Social Security office would create real access barriers to seniors and people with disabilities in Western New York,” said Higgins. “These residents endure long delays due to case backlogs and this move would add new and unnecessary obstacles to those already facing challenges.”
Higgins notes that a resident living at a senior facility in Amherst taking public transit would have to take a bus, rail and walk over ¼ mile to reach the Social Security office in Buffalo – a trip taking over an hour one-way.
Higgins district, which includes Amherst, is home to approximately 180,000 Social Security beneficiaries.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates 75 offices across New York State including four in the Buffalo Niagara region located in Amherst, Buffalo, Niagara Falls and West Seneca. The Social Security Administration announced this week plans to close their office in Amherst on March 28, 2014. The Amherst office is located in the Century Mall on Sheridan Drive.
In 2008 SSA closed a field office in Cheektowaga. In the SSA New York region alone fourteen offices have been closed in the last three years.
Higgins notes that the four locations in Erie-Niagara have already undergone significant staff reductions contributing to cost savings locally and nationally. The Amherst office has seen a 69% cut in staffing over the last 20 years – the largest reduction of the 20 Western New York regional offices. Staff at the Buffalo office has reduced by 67% and the West Seneca Ridge Road office, which consolidated with Cheektowaga after it closed, saw a 36% cut in staff over the last two decades.
In 2012 Higgins introduced the Social Security Administration Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4082) which would require the SSA to halt field office closings until SSA transmit to Congress a report which includes caseload data, service population and staffing levels at field offices as well as the process by which office closings are selected.