Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4) and Senator Tammy Baldwin Introduce the Maintain Access to Vital Social Security Services Act of 2019

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Washington, May 22, 2019 | comments

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2019

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin Introduce the Maintain Access to Vital Social Security Services Act of 2019

In the wake of last year’s ill-advised closure of the Mitchell Street Social Security Administration field office in Milwaukee, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) and Senator Tammy Baldwin have introduced H.R. 2901, the Maintain Access to Vital Social Security Services Act of 2019. The bill requires that the Social Security Administration (SSA) operates a sufficient number of fully staffed field offices and implements a binding 180-day public notification and comment period. During this period, the SSA would provide the public and local elected officials an opportunity to understand and challenge the rationale for closures.

“The shuttering of Social Security Field Offices, in Milwaukee and across the country, has created major complications for millions of Americans who depend on their hard-earned benefits,” said Congresswoman Moore.

"Last year, the Social Security Administration made a hasty decision to close a field office on Milwaukee's Southside without regard for concerns from community members or considering alternatives. We need to ensure that seniors and others that rely on face-to-face services with Social Security have the opportunity to do so, and when hard decisions about closing field offices have to be made, that those affected have the opportunity to make their voices heard," said Senator Baldwin. "I'm proud to work with Congresswoman Moore to establish new procedures for Social Security Administration to follow when it proposes to close local field offices that are there to serve the community."

The impacts of such closures are profound and lasting. A 2017 report using the SSA’s  data found that field office closings reduced the number of disability applications by 11 percent in  zip codes closest to the closing office and increased walk-in wait times at nearby field offices by as much as 21 percent.

“My bill will help to ensure the SSA continues to provide essential in-person services to all communities,” said Congresswoman Moore.

"Every member of Congress should support Representative Gwen Moore's and Senator Baldwin’s Maintaining Access to Vital Social Security Services Act," said Nancy J. Altman, President, Social Security Works. "This visionary legislation would ensure that Americans have reliable and convenient access to Social Security field offices. All of us have paid for high quality service at field offices with our Social Security contributions. With 10,000 Americans turning age 65 every day, we should be opening field offices, not closing them." 

“The spate of Social Security Administration office closures around the country has had real and lasting effects on the communities these offices serve,” said J. David Cox Sr., President, American Federation of Government Employees National. “This legislation would provide desperately needed relief, helping to ensure that every American has convenient access to the Social Security benefits they’ve earned. And, importantly, it would make sure each community has a mechanism to make their voice heard in discussions about the future of Social Security offices in their area. AFGE commends Congresswoman Moore and Senator Baldwin on introducing this vital legislation.”

This bill has been endorsed by Social Security Works, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, and the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare.

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