The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday it was taking steps to mitigate wait times at Houston area offices.
KPRC 2 News viewers have reported standing outside in long lines in the extreme heat for hours at SSA offices in Conroe, Houston, and Pasadena.
In response to inquiries from KPRC 2 News Wednesday, the agency said it was adding a canopy to the northwest Houston office at 16200 Dillard Drive but was exploring the “feasibility” of doing so at other offices.
A spokesperson said the SSA will also temporarily assign additional employees to help triage the lines. They pointed to drop boxes at all Houston offices for people to use if they simply need to drop off documents and evidence. Restrooms and water fountains are also available inside for people waiting in line.
In a statement to KPRC 2 News Tuesday, SSA said most Social Security services do not require an office visit and that people could avoid waiting in line by using online services. The agency also recommended calling and scheduling appointments instead of walking in without an appointment.
Pictures sent to KPRC 2 News by a viewer showed long lines at the Pasadena office on Watters Road, where people told us they had tried unsuccessfully to resolve their issue online before giving up and heading to the office to wait outside.
Images from inside the office showed entire rows of chairs blocked off.
A spokesperson for the agency indicated on Tuesday the wait outside and lack of seating inside were related to ongoing COVID protocols.
“Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures including masking, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms,” said Sarah Schultz-Lackey, regional communications director for the Dallas region of the SSA.