By Steve Mosco
Residents angered by the closure of the Ridgewood/Glendale Social Security Office joined state Assembly members Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) to advocate for the reopening of the office on Myrtle Avenue.
The office closed last year, rerouting anyone who needs Social Security assistance to an office in Rego Park — a major inconvenience for the senior citizens who frequented the Glendale office.
“It should never have closed,” said Linda McGrath, a Glendale resident since 1949 who happened to be walking by and joined the rally. “I don’t drive so I can’t go to the Rego Park office. Getting there by public transportation is a nightmare — it’s easier to get to Manhattan.”
Lancman, who is running for Congress in the new Queens district, said the Glendale office’s shuttering is a symbol of how last year’s $1 billion budget cut to the U.S. Social Security Administration has stranded seniors in communities like Glendale and Ridgewood.
“This shuttered office is a brick-and-mortar representation of the misguided choices being made in Washington. Instead of protecting Social Security benefits for seniors, Republicans are protecting tax cuts for the rich,” he said. “This office being closed is the trickle-down product of choices made by Republicans. The choice to cut the Social Security budget became the choice to close this office.”
The assemblyman said if elected to Congress, he would seek to raise the taxable income cap, which would help to restore Social Security funding. According to Lancman, this would help keep offices like Glendale open and able to serve the public.
Nolan said reopening the office, at 67-10 Myrtle Ave., which closed in July last year, would restore access for seniors in Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood.
“Congress may think that traveling a few extra miles to access Social Security benefits is no big deal, but they don’t understand that things are a little different here in middle-class Queens neighborhoods like Glendale and Ridgewood,” said Nolan. “These residents here today were just walking by and they chose to join us here. That tells me this neighborhood needs a congressman that will be a vocal advocate for the community.”
Another senior neighborhood resident, Kathleen Strong, said she could drive to the Rego Park office, but parking for someone of any age can be a major problem.
“If you want to park, you can try to get a spot at the [Rego Center] mall and walk five blocks to the office,” said Strong. “Try parking anywhere else and you’ll probably get a ticket or a tow.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.