The Village of Williamsville will help Northtowns residents access Social Security services, now that the agency’s Amherst field office is closed.
Village Hall, located at 5565 Main St., will serve as a satellite site for residents to connect remotely with a caseworker from the Social Security Administration, Rep. Brian Higgins and Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa announced Monday.
“It’s a creative solution to a problem that was forced on us,” Higgins, D-Buffalo, said during a press conference at Village Hall. “The Village of Williamsville’s willingness to set up and open their doors as a Social Security satellite site is a true service to residents in the village, town and across northern Erie County.”
Higgins was vocal in his opposition against closing the Amherst office at 3131 Sheridan Drive, but it was ultimately shut down on April 25.
The Social Security Administration put out some feelers to local municipalities about hosting a remote site, and Kulpa volunteered the village.
“We’re excited by this,” Kulpa said. “It isn’t the perfect solution, but it’s a good solution. It’s about giving people the opportunity to still have a face-to-face conversation with staff that are so vital in their ability to collect benefits.”
The Amherst field office served about 36,000 people a year, which included 17 of the 36 nursing homes in Erie County, Higgins said.
The Williamsville satellite site, however, will be offered on a much more limited basis.
The Social Security Administration will install a computer and camera in Village Hall that will allow residents to connect remotely with a caseworker in the Buffalo office, Kulpa explained.
While a Williamsville staffer will be available to help people connect with a caseworker, the satellite site in Village Hall will be open only a few hours for one or two days a week to handle appointments made through the Social Security Administration. The Social Security offices in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and West Seneca remain open.
The satellite site in Village Hall should be up and running by early August.
Also on hand for the announcement were the trustees of the Village Board, who were expected to formally approve the agreement at Monday night’s meeting.
“The village has a great reputation for being efficient in delivering municipal services,” Higgins said. “They are collaborating with the Social Security Administration, so perhaps this can be a model for more of these types of collaborations.”