(WASHINGTON) – Thousands of American Federation of Government Employees Social Security employees at more than 130 Social Security offices across the country, along with the Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign took to the streets today to protest recent proposals from Congress that would cut the Social Security Administration’s operational budget.
“Cutting Social Security’s budget at a time that record baby boomers are seeking benefits is another example of bad Washington politics. These cuts will only punish Americans who count on Social Security and Medicare by adding to backlogs and limiting assistance for our seniors, the disabled and families that have lost a parent or spouse,” explained Witold Skwierczynski, president of AFGE’s Council of Field Operations Locals.
Congress has proposed reductions from $473 to 882 million from the President’s budget request in SSA funding for 2012.
FY 2011 current status, results from nearly $1 billion below the amount the President requested. As a result of those cuts, SSA implemented an agency-wide hiring freeze with the exception of the hearings operations. This resulted in a loss of more than 3,500 SSA and DDS (Disability Determination Service) State employees. More than 300 contact stations were closed, eliminating in-person services in many rural and remote sites. SSA indefinitely suspended mailing the Social Security statement, without advance notice to the public, eliminating an important link between young workers and the benefits they will receive when they retire.
Additionally, some members of Congress want across the board cuts from the FY11 level, which would be detrimental to SSA. SSA officials have stated that for every $25 million cut below FY11 funding levels, every SSA and DDS employee would suffer a furlough day. Across the board cuts, such as the 5% discussed, would result in the imposition of 24 furlough days for every SSA and DDS employee.
Implementing cuts of $882 from the FY12 proposed budget by the President, would result in an ongoing hiring freeze. SSA officials have projected that this would result in additional loss of 3,000 SSA and DDS employees.
“Cutting Social Security’s budget will make it nearly impossible for Social Security employees to do their job,” explained Skwierczynski. “That spells disaster for those that depend on Social Security. It’s also destroying thousands of good jobs. Social Security is our nation’s most popular and effective anti-poverty family insurance program. It’s not the cause of our country’s economic woes. Cutting any part of Social Security or the jobs of those who work there is indefensible.”
Members from Alaska, Alabama, California, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin participated in the events.