Social Security: Running on Fumes?

On every paycheck you earn, you're made a promise. The money deducted for Social Security is a promise that protects us all against the risk of lost income for our family in the event of the disability or death of a breadwinner, and in retirement. Social Security isn't just a promise from the U.S. Government – it's a commitment we've made to each other.  

Social Security helps everyone, from the retirees who receive benefits after decades of hard work, to millions of children who depend on it to survive. In 2014, 3.2 million American kids directly received Social Security benefits, mostly as the result of a parent passing away. It also serves as a lifeline to the 10 million workers who are too injured to work, or disabled. 

Social Security has changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people. For 81 years, it has worked just as President Franklin D. Roosevelt intended, to “give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.” for millions of seniors, Social Security is their only form of income. 

But powerful special interests and their wealthy allies in Congress are licking their chops in sight of the vast Social Security funds that currently serve one in six Americans. They want to gamble with our future by privatizing Social Security, letting it ride the stock market, and handing more wealth to the Wall Street executives that sunk our economy just 7 years ago. 

They’re trying to increase the retirement age beyond when many of us  are able to work. Don't be fooled: they say they want to cut benefits now to avoid cutting benefits later, but most Americans know not to go 'all in' on the stock market. We've seen it upend too many lives already.  

But the second part of their plan is just as bad. In addition to cutting benefits, they want to limit our ability to access Social Security in our own communities by closing down or understaffing Social Security offices.  

Here's Their Plan:  

The House Appropriations Committee cut President Obama’s proposed budget for the Social Security Administration (SSA) by $1.2 billion. If they get their way, SSA will be forced to operate on $263 million less than it does now – even though it's already struggling to meet public demand. 

Six ways the agency, its employees, and the American people will be hurt if they get their way: 

1. A 10-day furlough of all SSA employees 

2. An agency-wide hiring freeze  

3. A reduction in local office hours 

4. Permanent closing of many field offices 

5. Increases in wait times on the national 1-800 number and field offices 

6. An increase in processing time for benefits 

So even though these lawmakers have not succeeded in reducing the amount of money on your Social Security checks or increasing the retirement age, they are making it harder for you to access your legally earned benefits now.   

“It is irresponsible for the House of Representatives to think that shutting down SSA and punishing the public is warranted,” said Witold Skwierczynski, president of AFGE’s National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals. “Ten furlough days equates to a two-week shutdown of Social Security. This means that for two weeks, we will not take retirement, survivors, or disability claims.”   

They will not be able to address other issues either, like lost benefit payments and applications for Social Security numbers.  

SSA employees would face double the abuse. Combined with lawmakers’ efforts to cut Social Security benefits, SSA employees would lose income now due to the furlough and a lost future income when they retire if the benefits are cut. 

“This is not the way to treat your employees and certainly not the way to lead the country,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. Cox said. "The goal of Social Security is to protect all Americans – the young, the old, the disabled -- this plan does exactly the opposite.” 


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