Maybe you know how it feels when you go to a mobbed DMV for a driver’s license or sit in a bus or train station the day before Thanksgiving or on New Year’s Eve.
The same feeling came over me when I arrived one Friday morning at the Social Security Office on Edsall Road in Alexandria in order to replace my lost Social Security card. The room overflowed with people. Some of the clients attempted to soothe crying babies and squirming toddlers, others diligently filled out government forms. Other people were standing about outside in the parking lot knowing they would have to wait from here to eternity for their number to be called.
Which leads me to ask what exactly were government authorities thinking when earlier this year they closed the Rosslyn Social Security office in Arlington County, which was at least readily accessible by Metrorail. What weird calculation had gone into having a Social Security office situated at a hard-to-find office park in Alexandria making it especially difficult to reach for those without cars, unless you happened to reside in that neighborhood on Edsall Road? Not to mention forcing more people to crowd into fewer places to deal with Social Security issues.
Sure, there’s Metrorail’s Van Dorn Street station, but it’s not around the corner, a good 25-minute walk away, not exactly accessible to the Alexandria Social Security office for those who can’t walk or are otherwise physically challenged. Also noteworthy is that Metrorail has announced that the Van Dorn Street station, along with other Metro stops in Alexandria, will be closed between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2019.
The next closest Social Security office in the Northern Virginia suburbs is listed as being somewhere way far out in Fairfax County, which seems even more remote for those without cars.
I’ve read that Social Security offices are being consolidated around the country supposedly to save money. In that vein, the Rosslyn office was closed despite citizen protests against that action. From my experience at the Alexandria office, many of the people having to apply for Social Security are infirm, disabled, and/or old, forced to take time off from work, or must bring their children with them because they don’t have the means to pay for day-care. It’s like the government is making life harder for those people who most need supplemental security income, Medicare, or disability benefits, which are all covered in the Social Security program.
Forget about how long it takes to reach a Social Security representative by phone. Sure, there’s the Internet, but if you want to get a Social Security card over the website you have to give out personal information, risking identity theft — which is why in my case I went to the Alexandria office in person.
At least I had a car to get there. Those less fortunate don’t have that luxury. I say to the government that it should locate a Social Security office in Alexandria that offers better access to mass transit. Make the Social Security experience at least halfway more secure and sociable.
Eric A. Green