SSA employees are shocked and dismayed by the actions and rhetoric from Congress regarding the Social Security program and expressed such concern by participating in an informational picket at SSA offices across the country yesterday.
The House recently passed a budget for FY 11 which would reduce the FY 11 budget to $1.7 billion less than requested by President Obama. Commissioner Astrue has informed Congress that such a cut will result in:
1) Furloughs of SSA employees for a month (20-23 days)
2) A hiring freeze
3) No overtime
This would come at a time of increased workload due to the emergence of the baby boom generation to retirement age and economic hardship in this country which has caused many of the unemployed to file for retirement or disability.
Stripping SSA of its resources while SSA has an increased work load makes no sense unless the goal is to undermine the SSA program. Not only will SSA employees be forced to have an unjustified pay cut of 9% but the public will be faced with days when offices are closed and the 800# is shut down. They will have difficulty in filing claims, longer waits on the phone and in person, increased processing times and backlogs.
Why should the public who paid taxes throughout their work life with an expectation of service live to suffer long waits and experience difficulty in accessing benefits that they are due?
The irony of all of this is that SSA has not caused the budget deficit in any way. The FY 12 Republican plan is to go back to FY 08 appropriations levels. This would require SSA to cut 6,800 full-time employees and enact more furloughs. We also need to anticipate office closures to save money. We would be cutting services to the population who need assistance at key times in their lives – retirees and the disabled. Why should we treat this population with such cavalier insensitivity?
SSA employees are fed up and protested at 96 SSA office locations during their lunch breaks to educate the American people and Congress regarding the adverse impact of the House proposed budget cuts on SSA service.
If the government shuts down due to failure of Congress to agree on a budget and SSA closes its doors, the most vulnerable population will have no access to the benefits they are entitled to receive.