Social Security building in New Utrecht has been closed since spring
Senior citizens and the disabled living in Bensonhurst and surrounding communities have had to go further afield when they need to visit a Social Security office since this past spring, when the local office was closed because of the building’s deteriorated condition.
The closure of the office at 7714 17th Ave. in New Utrecht may be related to major structural damage to the building’s roof, according to the office of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents the area, and whose spokesperson told this paper that the facility has remained closed for the safety of staff and retirees.
According to the SSA website, the New Utrecht location is closed until further notice due to facility issues; it directs residents to go to 2250 Nostrand Ave. or 195 Montague St. for service. For Social Security card services, the website and phone line send residents to the center at 154 Pierrepont St.
Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices are important because of the face-to-face services they provide; in addition, they offer access for retirees without internet and those whose disabilities prevent them from travelling far.
“It’s depriving the communities from Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Gravesend from getting the services,” said resident Jin Chiu, who contacted this paper about the closure. “I wanted to help my father file for retirement. I was kind of confused as to why the office has been closed for months. And you can’t talk to a live person when you call the customer service line. They’re slow.”
While the SSA’s online presence and 800 number service have improved over a number of years, limited resources have led to more Social Security offices being closed since 2010. In a SSA hearing staff memo covering through Fiscal Year 2014, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging stated one of the factors often not considered when closing a field office is the physical condition of the buildings because they are leased and not owned by the SSA.
The 17th Avenue building currently has two active elevator violations and an open Limited Alteration Application (LAA) for plumbing work filed last year by WNW & Sons Plumbing and Heating. The plumbing office confirmed the work is ongoing.
“The landlord is working on the final stages of repairs,” said SSA representative John Shallnan when asked about the maintenance issues, “We hope to reopen this month.”
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