Social Security turns 85 on Friday, Aug. 14. Since its creation, the program has helped Americans live with financial security and dignity. Social Security keeps 22 million Americans out of poverty, and all workers at the Social Security Administration help ensure the program is available for generations to come.
Social Security isn't just for seniors -- it’s the primary life and disability insurance protection for children and the disabled, too. In fact, Social Security is woven into the social contract of our nation, ensuring that our most vulnerable aren’t left to fend for themselves.
But decade after decade, there are attempts by corporate special interests, right-wing ideologues, and their allies in Congress to cut Social Security or privatize it so they can turn a profit. They have tried to hand over our accounts to greedy Wall Street bankers, raise our retirement age, and reduce the return on what we have put in. They have closed Social Security offices, cut field office and teleservice center staff and sent seniors to file claims on the SSA website instead of talking to a claims representative -- causing many to become confused and lose out on the earned benefits they’ve worked hard for all their lives.
Despite these attacks by greedy corporations and self-serving politicians, SSA workers have remained steadfast in their commitment to the mission of the agency and serving the American public. Even amid a global pandemic, public servants have remained on the job to get families the benefits they deserve.
While SSA management had previously launched a campaign to gut telework for SSA employees, the pandemic has shown that workers thrive via a telework program. Most employees continue to work from home and have been doing so successfully since the start of the pandemic.
SSA employees have been even more productive while teleworking: average processing times for hearing decisions have improved from 491 days last May to 357 days this year, while employees handled 275,533 more calls to the national 800 number in May than they did during the same time last year. Workers and their union advocates will continue to push for expanded telework as a successful tool in meeting the needs of social security applicants and beneficiaries.
AFGE will continue to fight off attacks against Social Security by corporate cronies and advocate to keep the fund healthy for another 85 years.