Future of SL Social Security office uncertain

Thursday, January 3, 2008

There is a "possibility" that the Storm Lake Social Security office could be closing in the not-too-distant future.

No decisions have been announced, but several of the employees in the office will reach potential retirement status in 2008, and the Storm Lake office is currently considered one of the four smallest offices in the state.

The nearest Social Security offices are located in Spencer, Sioux City and Fort Dodge.

"If the Storm Lake office did close, it would be a really great loss to the community," said Orren Knoffloch, manager of the local office. "We serve about 13,000 people, and although more and more can be done over the phone or the internet, sometimes people like to be able to shake someone's hand."

The local office has developed a strong reputation for proactive service to clients that has perhaps extended its lifespan, but the local staff does understand the economics of the situation, the manager said.

According to a regional official of the Social Security Administration out of Kansas City, no formal proposal has been made to close the office at this time. The process, if the office were to close, would include notification of employees and Congressional representatives as well as the community. "We would not try to hide anything," he said.

The situation with local offices is under "constant review" to ensure that resources are being used in the most efficient means, he said.

Knoffloch, who has 24 years on the job, said he enjoys the work immensely, but is approaching the time to consider possible retirement himself.

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