On Thursday, May 3rd, advocates and retirees held a rally opposing the planned closure of Arlington’s only Social Security office.
The office is currently scheduled to be closed in June. The next closest field office is in south Alexandria, already serves a large population, and is not easily accessible by public transportation. Despite a 20 percent commercial vacancy rate in Arlington, the Social Security Administration (SSA) currently has no plans to open a new location to replace this one.
Since 2011, baby boomers have been retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day, expanding the population that the SSA serves. In recent years, the agency has closed 64 field offices due to budget constraints. These office closures make it increasingly difficult for Americans to access their earned benefits.
SSA finally secured a modest funding increase in the recent spending bill passed by Congress, but it’s not enough to make up for years of insufficient funding. Congress must allow SSA enough resources to open new offices instead of closing them. Polling shows that 84 percent of Americans oppose office closures.
Videos of each speaker, along with quotes from their remarks, are below. To watch a full video of the event, click here.
“When you close these offices, you’re cutting the ability for people to draw their Social Security, to get the proper advice. We don’t say just no, we say hell no to closing any community office!” – J. David Cox, President, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
“Office space is not that expensive in Arlington right now. There’s plenty of opportunities for the SSA to stay close by. I pledge to leverage all of the resources that the county has to help SSA find a suitable place for this office.” – Christian Dorsey, Arlington County Board member
“I’m angry because if you go to a Social Security office now, it’s understaffed, there’s long lines. People are trying to help recipients as much as they can but sometimes you have to go two or three times before you get service…We’re calling for no more closing of offices, and for full staffing.” – Julian Blair, Social Security beneficiary, veteran, and grassroots activist from Silver Spring, MD
“These are benefits we’ve earned and these are benefits we have paid for. Congress should take the shackles off SSA and let it spend enough not just to not close offices, but to open offices.” – Nancy Altman, President, Social Security Works
“Social Security is the people’s program, and we need people to run the program. Social Security is our earned benefit. It affects everybody.” – Richard Fiesta, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
“When my husband died three years ago, I called Social Security and they told me to go to the office in Alexandria. So I went. It was a long drive, and when I arrived it was already a circus. There were no seats available, I had to wait three hours without a seat. They told me next time, go to the office in Arlington and you won’t have to wait. So the next time, I did come here and it was a much happier experience. I am very very upset that they are thinking of closing this office.” – Cecile Heatley, Social Security beneficiary and activist with the Alliance for Retired Americans from McLean, VA
“Under the Bush administration, there was a big push to privatize Social Security. That failed, so Congress decided the way the American public would lose faith in the program is to make it difficult for them to obtain services. So they’ve closed over 71 offices since 2010.” – Witold Skwierczynski, President, AFGE Council 220
My older brother was disabled, he had muscular dystrophy. For the last years of his life, he depended on Social Security as his primary source of income. I’m sure here in this Arlington area there are many people just like my brother was, he was in a wheelchair and didn’t have accessibility to get to an office miles away. – Dan Doyle, Vice President District 4, AFGE National
“Ten thousand people turn sixty five every day. We should not be closing offices, we need to expand the services.” – Max Richtman, President & CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
“Closing the Arlington Social Security office without public notice or public input is unacceptable and will hit our most vulnerable neighbors hardest.” – Noah Simon, District Director for Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)
“We are concerned that the next closest field office in northern Virginia is much less accessible to Arlington residents and already serves large constituencies in Alexandria and Fairfax. This would place Arlington’s most vulnerable constituents at a considerable disadvantage.” – Kevin Saucedo-Broach, Legislative Assistant, Delegate Alfonso Lopez, reading statement from a letter sent to SSA from Delegates Lopez, Janet Howell, Mark Levine and Senator Adam Ebbin