The employees at Social Security offices in Iowa will soon be busier helping congested offices in New York. Offices in Carroll, Creston, and Ottumwa will electronically handle hundreds of claims from thousands of miles away.
Social Security regional commissioner, Michael Grochowski, says the Iowa offices have the capacity to handle the additional work, especially compared to locations in New York.
"You can come into our office here without an appointment, and you’re probably going to be served in five or ten minutes. If you’ve got an appointment, they serve you in two or three minutes, if not right on the dime. We have places in the country that you wait an hour. You wait a half hour if you have an appointment," Grochowski explains.
"We’re going to pair up with some offices in the New York region, especially in their metropolitan areas, where they can’t keep up with walk-in. When their doors open up, they have 100 or 150 people at the door everyday."
Grochowski says he’s confident the Iowa offices can handle the extra workload, but will make sure it doesn’t sacrifice efficient service to local citizens. But the high-quality workers in Iowa make it an easy decision for him.
"First of all, I’ve agreed with the New York Commissioner that we would try this on a trial basis," Grochowski says. "We have to ensure that we have no adverse impact on the office that’s servicing their particular community. Right now, because, frankly, you have such well-trained people, you don’t have a lot of attrition here, and they do a great job, they do have some capacity that we could take these on without having any negative effect."
Grochowski says sharing agreements like this are what may keep many rural offices alive as populations continue to shift. He says if they didn’t do things like taking in electronic work, there might be a legitimate reason why the offices aren’t needed anymore.
Grochowski oversees the Social Security Administration in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. He says about eight offices in the other states are setting up a similar sharing agreement to pair up with offices in New York. Nationwide, Social Security pays nearly $650-billion in benefits.