Bristol resident Darlene Coffey and her husband were planning to take a trip to Torrington last Wednesday to visit the Social Security Administration office, but the new Social Security satellite office at the Bristol Beal’s Senior Center saved them the trip.
Last Wednesday was the first day the new satellite office opened, which is a new feature in the city after the Social Security office on North Main Street closed earlier this year.
“Well, that was simple,” Coffey said as she finished with the Social Security representative who was based in the Hartford office.
The Senior Center will be offering the satellite office on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon, on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The satellite area is set up in a room within the main office of the Senior Center, and Senior Center Director Patty Tomascak said the office is set up there to give the users’ privacy, but also to provide access to the center’s staff in case they need assistance. The feature is available to Bristol residents who are 55-years-old or older, as well as disabled residents.
“It is definitely a very valuable service to have right here,” Tomascak added.
Resident who will use this feature will be able to talk directly to a Social Security representative via live video on a computer. The screen is easy to see and the individual is clear to hear to make the dialogue smooth. This representative in Hartford will be available, on-screen from 9 a.m. to noon, waiting for residents who need services.
Before the Social Security office on North Main Street closed in January, the mayor and state legislators worked with the administration and federal leaders to find a solution to still provide services to the Bristol residents. The mayor, at a January council meeting, said a collaboration was formed among the Army Strong Community Center, which will provide access to Social Security for veterans, Bristol Community Organization, and the senior center to offer services for those needing assistance with Social Security.
The Bristol satellite office joins two others in the region, one in Norwalk, Conn., and another in Maine.
Steve Richardson, a spokesman from the Social Security administration office in Massachusetts, said just about anything individuals would need to do in an actual office can be done via this satellite feature, as well as their own home via phone or internet. The only feature that is not allowed via satellite is renewal or issuance of a foreign-born Social Security card, as it requires face-to-face in person communication to authenticate information provided.
“The current budgetary climate has forced the agency to review its methods of offering safe, cost effective services to the people of Connecticut,” Richardson said when asked if the satellite offices are a viable solution to cost saving measures.
Individuals seeking services of the Social Security Administration can do the following: Access the agency website at www.SocialSecurity.gov; Use the national, toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213; or visiting or calling other offices in the state.
Bristol residents 55-years-old and over can visit the Senior Center, 240 Stafford Ave., Bristol, on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon to use the Social Security satellite feature. The center can be reached at (860)584-7895.