Overriding objections from elected officials and county residents, the Social Security Administration will move its only Sussex County office from Georgetown to Lewes. The move to the Vineyards at Nassau Valley along Route 9 is expected to occur this summer.
“This is action done by an agency that doesn't have any knowledge of the area,” said Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown. “They have made a decision that will affect thousands of people.”
Pettyjohn said there is no valid reason why a government office would not be located in Georgetown. “There is a reason the state bought land from my family back in the 1700s to keep everything in the center of the county. This was done without the input of residents or elected officials,” he said.
The lease for the current office – in place for the past decade – along Route 113 north of Georgetown expires this year, said Gina Gilliam, General Services Administration spokeswoman. “This move is a result of an open and competitive procurement for leased space that meets the Social Security Administration's space requirements, accommodates their regional operations and offered the lowest overall commercial rent rate to the government,” she said.
More than 55 percent of Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income recipients live closer to the new office in Lewes than the office in Georgetown, said SSA spokeswoman Terri Edwards. “Although we do not have historical data by ZIP code of Georgetown's visitor traffic, we do have statistical information on the number of beneficiaries and recipients,” she said.
Terri Lewis, an SSA communications manager, said the new office will be accessible via public transportation on DART Route 206, which will have a stop near the entrance. “The new office will offer enhanced privacy and security for residents who require face-to-face service,” Lewis said.
Pettyjohn said additional costs for infrastructure to support the office would likely be required, including a new bus route stop and possibly the addition of a traffic signal.
Lewis said residents can visit any office in any state, adding that some residents in western Sussex County could choose the Salisbury, Md., office at 2414 Northgate Drive or the Cambridge, Md., office at 828 Airpax Road.
Lewis said most Social Security Administration services do not require an office visit. She said people can go online at socialsecurity.gov to apply for retirement, spouse's, disability and Medicare benefits; get a tax summary form; or get a replacement Medicare card. Those 18 and over can set up an account online at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to receive earnings and benefits information, proof of income letter, change their address and start or change direct-deposit information.