Social Security workers protest budget cuts, cuts to service

Social Security workers belonging to the American Federation of Government Employees on Wednesday will set up informational pickets at 75 local Social Security offices from Rhode Island to Montana explaining the impact that proposed cuts to their agency’s operating budget will have on people applying for Social Security or disability benefits. If the cuts are enacted, “public service will be devastated,” said Dana Duggins of the AFGE.

The proposed cuts are part of a Republican budget that slashes federal spending by $61 billion. The budget passed the House, and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. If the proposed cuts stand, the Social Security Administration’s operating budget would be reduced by $1.7 billion resulting in temporary furloughs for thousands of the agency’s workers. The furloughs will result in delays to application processing for both Social Security and disability benefits.

According to Richard Eskow of the Campaign for America’s Future, the cuts are part of long-range Republican strategy to reduce the Social Security Administration and make it harder for people to get benefits that they’ve earned.

In analyzing the Republican budget, the Social Security Administration says that proposed cuts would result in employees being furloughed for up to one month between now and the end of the year causing the delay in processing applications for 400,000 Social Security applicants and 300,000 disability applicants.

“Somebody who becomes disabled is forced to wait nearly a year and one-half to receive disability payment,” writes Eskow. “This inhumane situation will become even worse under the (Republican) budget. . . . Retiring people, those reaching 65 and the newly bereaved will also be forced to endure an intolerable waiting period.”

Eskow asks the rhetorical question, Why are Republicans doing this? And answers because “they want to dismantle government, to render it incapable of doing anything but serve needs of the wealthy.”

The American Federation of Government Employees is organizing these lunch-time actions. Union workers and their supporters will picket and pass out flyers informing the public about the impact of the proposed cuts.

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