Social Security office in Amherst to close

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Western New Yorkers tell News 4 the lines at the Social Security offices are too long.

“I was satisfied with the service, but the wait was an hour and fifteen minutes, too long,” said Amherst resident Michelle Plesh.

“There’s like 30 people waiting hours sitting there, I’m not going to do that,” said Kenmore resident David LaTona.

They may need to prepare to wait even longer. At the end of March, the Amherst office will close, consolidating with the Buffalo office. That will leave three social security offices in Western New York, with the other two being in West Seneca and Niagara Falls.

“No, no, no they need to keep that open,” said one resident.

“It’s the cost of doing business and you consolidate and yeah it’s an inconvenience for a lot of people, but it is what it is,” said Tonawanda resident Mary Fatta.

According to the Social Security Administration, its budget has been significantly reduced with three straight years of funding nearly a billion dollars below the President’s budget requests.

In New York, 14 offices have been consolidated in the last three years. The Amherst-Buffalo consolidation is expected to save more $4.9 million over the next 10 years.

Congressman Brian Higgins is appealing the consolidation.

“There are a lot of seniors in our area, there’s a lot of individuals who are disabled who depend on those offices,” said Higgins.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare hopes the current appropriations bill will change things in the future.

“I think once this legislation is completed there will be a process that’s in place to allow more input from the public to address these kinds of situations,” said president and CEO Max Richtman.

The 22 employees at the Amherst office will report the Buffalo office at the end of March. The Social Security Administration has lost more than 10,000 employees since the beginning of fiscal year 2011.

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