TITLE: Support Social Security Administration Consultation with Tribal Governments Prior to Closure of Any Field Offices
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, many AI/AN tribal Elders live in remote areas and prefer to receive Social Security information and guidance from a trained professional in-person at the local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices instead of transactions using potentially confusing and intimidating online databases. Those serving AI/ANs can answer questions more readily and ensure that they understand the various benefits programs available to them from the Social Security Administration; and
WHEREAS, these important field offices provide valuable services to vulnerable Elders who may depend on their Social Security benefits as a sole source of income; and
WHEREAS, these Social Security Field Offices are facing closure and will therefore limit efficient, culturally sensitive customer service. These offices provide services that are critical to tribal Elders and reservation communities; and
WHEREAS, legislation is needed that calls for submission of a budget estimate directly to Congress and the President, revises requirements that require inclusion of the number of cases pending at each hearing office and average processing time, requires the Commissioner to submit a detailed report outlining and justifying the process for selecting field offices to be closed, consolidated, or otherwise having limited access before the Commissioner can close any Social Security Administration (SSA) field office as well as requires the Commissioner to follow certain administrative procedures.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI recognizes and supports the Social Security Administration’s commitment to support and provide customer service in rural areas benefiting tribal communities and Elders; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCAI supports legislation that would require the Social Security Administration to consult with Tribal governments prior to closure of any field offices and to take into account any potential impact it may have on tribal communities prior to closure; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI will hereby be committed to working with the Social Security Administration to ensure adequate consultation is conducted with Tribal governments in consideration of any field office closures; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2014 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, October 26-31, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia, with a quorum present