The Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to close the ID office at 675 South Lane Street (and also at 901 Lenora Street) next Spring, and open a new office on the 9th Floor of the Jackson Federal Building, 915 Second Avenue, to replace them.  Community organizations and Congressman Jim McDermott have raised strong concerns about access to the new location that have not been addressed.  The existing offices serve about 300 total visitors each day.

Can you imagine the manongs and elderly Chinese women making their way from the ID to the Federal Building?  Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, or Vietnamese and many others may not find out about such a change  until they get to the old office and can’t read the English sign on the door that tells them in bureaucratese to go to the Federal Building. 

And, when they get there, the Federal Building is a Level IV high security facility.  Anyone entering the building will need a valid state or federal identification.  And, those who enter must pass through a magnetometer, and their belongings through an x-ray machine.  The security guards presumably speak only English, which will be a serious problem for the elderly women to put their purses on the conveyor belt and have an electronic wand run all around their bodies.  It’s intimidating for us, what about our elders? There are just two handicapped parking spaces on the streets surrounding the building, and commercial parking is expensive.  So, even when a friend or family member offers to drive them, there’s no place to park!

Valid state or federal identification is not needed at the current offices.  There are no magnetometers or x-ray machines.  Employees can interpret for non-English-speaking visitors in several languages, and telephone interpreter service is also available.  There are plenty of adjacent free or low-cost parking spaces.

There is still time for SSA to reverse this decision, and to ensure that low income visitors who cannot afford to purchase a Washington State Identification Card, handicapped clients, and those with limited or no ability to speak English can continue to be served in their communities.  

                SSA Regional Commissioner Stanley Friendship

                [email protected]


It’s bad enough that federal, state and local governments are making huge cuts to health care and human services.  Now they want to make it inaccessible for our elders and/or those who don’t speak English to get to them!

Signed by:   George Cheung, Diane Narasaki, and all the folks at IDHA:  Carol James, MSW; Chris Anne Abad, MSW; Ning Murro; Emy Gaviola; Rita Castro; Tay Quach; Alma Dea Michelena, MSW; Corinne Manabat; Mindy Au, MPA; Sharyne Shiu Thornton, PhD.

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