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Amid coronavirus threat Social Security closes all local Social Security offices
by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com)
Wednesday Mar 18th, 2020 10:51 PM
In essence, now that the SSA offices have been shut down locally, and across the nation, and people cannot reach anyone at the tele-service centers because they have not been expanded, it places tens of thousands of HUD’s subsidized housing tenants at risk when they are not able to obtain documents that are needed to verify their income when it’s time to renew their housing contracts!
Amid coronavirus threat Social Security closes all local Social Security offices

By Lynda Carson — March 18, 2020

Oakland - Effective yesterday, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has closed all of its offices nationwide, including local Social Security offices in Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco and other Bay Area cities. Allegedly the closures are part of an effort to protect senior citizens from the coronavirus and Covid-19.

According to HUD’s records on 10/08/2019, in San Francisco there are 13,798 units in its Section 8 inventory, Oakland has 13,614 Section 8 units, Berkeley has 1,995 Section 8 units, Alameda has 1,885 Section 8 units, Alameda County has 6,684 Section 8 units, Contra Costa County has 9,235 Section 8 units, and Marin Housing has 2,205 Section 8 units listed.

Once a year or more, the people in each of the above mentioned Section 8 units need to contact the Social Security Administration to request documents to verify their income when it is time to renew their subsidized housing contracts.

Now that the local Social Security offices have been closed, it places all the Section 8 voucher holders at risk because it just became much more difficult to obtain documents from the SSA.

According to the Press Release, “All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services.

Our secure and convenient online services remain available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov. Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone. We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, and other experts to monitor COVID-19 and will let you know as soon as we can resume in-person service.”

Problems At The Social Security Administration:

According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), “Federal agencies, however, have been largely slow in their response to the risk of infection among the workforce despite new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management maximizing telework.

The Social Security Administration (SSA), for example, has denied our union’s repeated calls to immediately allow all eligible workers to telework. Four SSA offices may have already been exposed to the virus:

1. Seven Fields, PA Office of Hearing Operations (OH): A vocational expert worked in the hearing office after she was exposed to someone with possible COVID-19. As of March 13, no action was taken with respect to the employees who were potentially exposed as a result.

2. Baltimore, Md., OHO National Case Assistance Center: An employee was potentially exposed to COVID-19 through a family member. The employee informed management, and management sent the employee home. As of March 13, no action was taken for the employees who were potentially exposed because they worked around the employee who reported a potential exposure.

3. Auburn, WA Mega teleservice center/ Workload Support Unit: An employee reported to management that the employee was potentially exposed to the virus after being in immediate contact with an employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
Management’s response was to proposed isolating the employee in the office by stashing the employee in a corner, rather than grant the employee telework (which the employee had done in the past).

4. A St. Louis-area field office was potentially exposed to COVID-19 after an employee’s family member attended a party with someone who tested positive. As of March 13, no action was taken.

SSA drastically cut the telework program last year and earlier this year. It now reinstated telework only at a handful of offices, including those in Seattle and New York. Our union is still working to get the agency to reinstate telework agencywide, but we shouldn’t have to. The agency is putting the public and employees at risk.

“Every single day SSA does nothing, SSA bears the responsibility for what happens to its employees and to the visiting public when it could have very easily taken steps such as telework expansion and deploying alternative methods to serve the public to mitigate the risk,” said AFGE Council 215 President Rich Couture. “Every day the agency refuses to do to the right thing the right way, SSA sends the message that it does not care about the health and well-being of its workforce, as well as the visiting public. Shame.”

Reportedly, in Government Executive, according to Rich Couture of AFGE, “But AFGE Council 215 President Rich Couture described that statement as “misleading.” He said that despite the commissioner’s message to employees, no definitive action has been taken to expand telework, and that the agency is still outright refusing to allow employees in its operations components to work remotely, even though that work generally involves no interaction with the public.

“The agency is trying to portray itself as having expanded telework across the board to the maximum extent possible to all employees with portable work, when in fact it has done very little in the way of doing so,” Couture said. “So far there’s been nothing for field offices or hearings offices. There’s nothing for tele-service centers or payment centers.”

Couture said that despite Saul’s email to the contrary, when he met with agency officials Tuesday morning, they said decisions had not yet been made with respect to telework.
“I had a call with labor relations this morning, and I asked a question about the email and what are the components’ plans for expanding telework,” Couture said. “I was told that no decisions had been made. You can’t make this stuff up.”

Couture said employees were furious to discover that telework in fact had not expanded with the closure of the local offices.
“Their hopes were raised and then dashed, and now I’m dealing with a lot of angry employees who believed that finally, the agency was doing right by its employees, only to find out that it is not,” he said. “It’s egregious. It’s bizarre.”

The Public Is Getting Screwed By The SSA:

At a time when all the baby boomers (people 65 & older) are at most need to be able to go to a local SSA office to sign up for their Social Security benefits, in a bizarre situation with local offices facing closure, business has halted to a virtual standstill because assurances that the SSA would begin expanding telework (on-line services) have not occurred.

Employees are claiming that nothing has changed so far. No expanded telework is taking place so far.

This again shows how incompetent the Trump administration has become at a time when the public needs to be able to communicate with the SSA to be able to get documents to verify their income when it is time to renew their contracts with the non-profit housing organizations that house them, or to renew their section 8 voucher housing contracts, and public housing contracts in a timely manner. Reportedly, most SSA offices are not able to conduct business presently.

In essence, now that the SSA offices have been shut down locally, and across the nation, and people cannot reach anyone at the tele-service centers because they have not been expanded, it places tens of thousands of HUD’s subsidized housing tenants at risk when they are not able to obtain documents that are needed to verify their income when it’s time to renew their housing contracts.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com

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New Trump Rule Would Deny Disability Benefits To People Who Can’t Work Full Time

In addition to closing down all the local Security Offices nationwide, the Trump administration wants people with disabilities to have more reviews by the Social Security Administration to see if they can be bumped from the ranks of the disabled. Sounds Kafkaesk...

And the latest news is that the Trump administration wants to dump people from the ranks of the disabled if they can work 30 hours a week.

See link to story below...

(LC)

>>>>>>>
New Trump Rule Would Deny Disability Benefits To People Who Can’t Work Full Time

If someone can work 30 hours per week, the proposed regulation says, then they aren’t disabled enough for benefits.

Click below…

https://tinyurl.com/r6v9oo5

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Drawing of someone soon to need Social Security benefitsLynda CarsonThursday Mar 19th, 2020 3:24 PM
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