Public Access to Social Security in Jeopardy, Coalition Says
(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 25,000 employees in the Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices, today expressed deep concern over the administration’s ability to continue to service the American people amid severe budget constraints. As part of a coalition to garner public support for additional funding, AFGE held a news conference today urging Congress to pass the Higgins Bill, H.R. 5110. The new legislation known as the Social Security Customer Service Improvement Act was introduced before the House of Representatives in January and provides Congress with additional oversight in staff levels, office closures and SSA budget estimates.
“Over the past ten years the Social Security administrative budget has been constricted by upwards of $1.3 billion,” said AFGE Council 220 President Witold Skwierczynski. “Further cuts to the SSA budget, as 76 million baby boomers enter the system, could prove to be disastrous.”
SSA field office employees, already inundated with backlogs, are concerned that a lack of sufficient funding will adversely affect their ability to effectively serve tax payers. Employees have already received anecdotal reports from the public that previous office closures forced clients to travel 50 to 100 miles to their nearest SSA field office.
“In order to prevent proposed office closures nationwide, which would severely limit public access, Congress must provide funding and oversight through H.R. 5110-the SSA desperately needs,” added Skwierczynski.
AFGE has continuously lobbied for an increased the Social Security budget, but the needs of the administration have been continually ignored.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.