Near Southwest District Office

1233 W. Adams

Having worked for the last 19 years as a legal advocate for people with HIV, I’ve developed a singular impatience with the Social Security Administration’s murky, byzantine labyrinth. Walk into most any local office to address a minor problem in your monthly disability check, say, and your chance of getting a sensible answer—let alone resolving the trouble—is often on par with your chance of spotting snark. (A local bureaucrat once insisted she couldn’t talk to me about my client’s overpayment because nothing in the file showed I was the client’s appointed representative—even though I had just handed her a completed Appointment of Representative form.) But if you’ve got to deal with Social Security and you’d like to minimize your risk of disappearing into a Kafkaesque black hole, try the Near Southwest District Office. The building is new, clean, and generally uncrowded, and the security guard will often talk to you like a human being. I’d estimate the frontline workers are at least 90 percent accurate in quoting their own rules and regulations. And when pressed, they’ll even look them up! —Justin Hayford