Seeking help on Social Security matters is not as easy as it once was for local residents.
Due to the “partial” government shutdown this week, Nevada’s Social Security field offices will remain open with limited services and staff.
The town of Pahrump, however, took a double hit as Social Security representatives from Las Vegas also announced they will no longer provide services locally each month.
For years, the Las Vegas field office provided two representatives to assist Pahrump residents with filing for claims, obtaining a Social Security card and many other services at the Bob Ruud Community Center.
When Congressman Steven Horsford heard this he decided he would step in to help.
Horsford wants Pahrump residents to know they can still receive assistance on Social Security matters.
This week the congressman’s office issued a statement.
“Representative Horsford is committed to helping seniors and others in Pahrump navigate Social Security so they receive the benefits they deserve. On the last Tuesday of every month, our office will be holding mobile office hours in Pahrump to make the process easier for seniors and to ensure our staff is available to everyone who needs help,” the statement read.
On Wednesday, Pahrump Town Manager Susan Holecheck applauded Horsford’s efforts.
“I’m just very grateful that Mr. Horsford’s office stepped up to the plate as quickly as they did. I think it’s commendable that Congressman Horsford acted so quickly and knew that we had to have a presence here so our residents have someone they could talk to. Many senior citizens in our community are mostly affected by this and it’s really sad when services get cut to the rural communities. To my understanding Social Security made this decision about a month or so ago,” she said.
Anne Blankenship, site manager at the Pahrump Senior Center, said it’s additionally unfortunate for the community’s senior population, especially those who don’t have the means to drive into Las Vegas to take care of their business.
“Most of the seniors in Pahrump have a hard time getting into Las Vegas to visit the Social Security Office. It’s an hour’s drive and maybe several more hours in the office once they get there. Then there’s the drive back into Pahrump. It can be very inconvenient,” she said.
One alternative right now is the Pahrump Community Library where locals can do business online.
Library Director Susan Wonderly said the facility can accommodate locals and out of town visitors with their online needs.
“Many of our patrons come in and log on to the Social Security website. We just help them get on the site and let them navigate the site for privacy issues. Some people do their banking here too. It costs 15 cents a page to print out a document. We have 17 computers in the adult section and eight in the children’s area. The children’s computers are filtered. In the adult section, we do have our regular patrons who come every day and use the computer. It’s generally for one hour and if they let us know ahead of time they can use it for more than one hour,” Wonderly said.
Pahrump Town Board Vice Chair Bill Dolan said he was surprised to hear about the decision regarding the discontinuance of Social Security representatives making the rounds to Pahrump.
He said the action creates problems for the entire community.
“It was very important to our seniors and to a large percentage of our community who are not only seniors but who are disabled in some way, shape or form who rely on those benefits and being able to set meetings with the representatives,” he said.