Editor, Registry Mail: Dear Congresswoman Bustos, I have watched with great concern in recent years how the Galesburg Social Security office has suffered serious staff losses. The Galesburg office has always been staffed with hardworking, dedicated and knowledgeable professionals. When I started the office in 2010, I believe there were nine employees. I have noticed from January 1, 2022, there will only be two full time and one part time employee.
I have heard stories of frustration with local office workers from my colleagues in other parts of the country with whom I communicate. I am a member of the National Association of Disability Representatives, we share information through a dedicated listserv. I have always considered myself very fortunate to work with the Galesburg office.
It would be a grave disservice to the people of the counties of Knox, Warren, Henderson, McDonough and Fulton to allow this office to wither and die. Many of my clients do not have fast internet and are not computer literate. They regularly experience problems that they can only resolve by contacting the local office in person. Going to Peoria or Rock Island is impossible for many people. They have no cars, no valid licenses and the cost of a 90 mile round trip is not feasible
It would be a huge mistake to divert calls to the office to the national SSA hotline. I gave up a long time ago to get useful information from the national hotline. Waiting times are regularly longer than half an hour, and calling minutes are expensive for my customers. In addition, Social Security is an incredibly complex system. In practice, misinformation spread by well-meaning operators will hurt your voters.
It was the late Senator Hubert Humphrey who said: “The moral test of the government is how that government treats those at the beginning of their lives, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” Please investigate immediately and let me know what your office is doing to address this situation. Find a way to help the most needy and don’t turn down Senator Humphrey’s challenge. Honestly, — Michael J. Mannino, Galesburg