AUBURN | Staff from the Social Security office in Syracuse met with local residents Tuesday at an event hosted by U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei.
The fair organized by Maffei, D-Syracuse, provided his Cayuga County constituents with a convenient way to talk directly to Social Security representatives without having to drive to Geneva or Syracuse, where the closest Social Security offices are located.
Auburn used to have its own Social Security office, but it was shut down in 2007. A local contact center was set up at the Boyle Center — the site of Tuesday's fair — and Social Security representatives would make weekly trips to Cayuga County to meet with residents.
But federal spending cuts in recent years led to the elimination of the Auburn visits. Maffei said the decision to close the Auburn office and get rid of occasional satellite hours wasn't made by any of the Social Security offices in the region.
"This was a decision made in Washington and Baltimore, not here," he said.
Maffei noted that Auburn's previous congressional representatives — U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, and former Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica — all fought to keep the Social Security office or continue regular visits in the city.
"We all had heard many, many people who did not want the original Social Security office to close, who wanted more services here in Auburn, who, for whatever reason, can't travel or it's very inconvenient for them to travel. And unfortunately, we lost that fight," he said. "But that's why we're here today and as we see need, we'll be here more often."
While the main reason for the fair was to provide assistance for local residents, Maffei did take a moment to discuss a policy proposal that would impact Social Security benefits.
The chained CPI, which would index benefits to the rate of inflation, was proposed by President Barack Obama and is supported by Republicans. Maffei opposes the chained CPI because it could result in benefit cuts for Social Security recipients.
At Tuesday's fair, Maffei reiterated his opposition to the chained CPI proposal.
"I've opposed it because at least in this district, we've noticed that the inflation seniors actually have to pay already is higher than the current CPI cost-of-living adjustment that you get, not lower," he said. "You can see this in the last couple of years when there was no adjustment for cost of living because there was allegedly no inflation. But seniors did have inflation."
The fair was one event in a busy week for Maffei. He hosted an education roundtable Monday and a public safety grants workshop Tuesday night in Cicero.
On Wednesday, Maffei will hold a joint press conference with Hanna at the Port of Oswego. Later in the day, he will host a public safety grants workshop at the Oswego Fire Department's East Side Fire Barn.