Those in Palmer who rely on it are about to face another hurdle. “As of February 27th, I believe, they will no longer be sending a representative to meet with our residents who have concerns about their Social Security. So as of the end of February, they will no longer be present in our town,” said District 4 Councilor Donald Blais.
Blais notes this isn’t the first time the Social Security Administration has tried to nix the 12 year old service.
Even though the town building lets the Administration use this space for free, a January 2011 letter from the Town Manager shows the SSA suspended office hours in Palmer, citing security and financial reasons, so they cut down office hours from 3 times a month to 1.
That will pose a huge inconvenience to those in Three Rivers, Ware and the other surrounding towns who depend on the monthly meetings to get their information since the next closest SSA office is in Springfield. “We have a very, very big elderly population. They don’t have transportation. They don’t know how to use a computer. If you were to take PVTA, it could take up to 2 hrs. This is a big impact in our town. We have to look out for everybody. They took care of us, while we were younger; this is our turn to help them out,” Blais stated.
Roberto Medina of the Social Security Administration does confirm that budget cuts are to blame for axing the service. He says that they received $1 billion less this fiscal year.
That, coupled with losing thousands of staff members to retirement means they won’t be able to afford to send a representative from the Springfield office to Palmer.
The Social Security Administration plans to send a representative to Palmer’s next town council meeting in January before office hours end in February. The SSA is also urging clients to do their business with them on line.