Federal workers joined with retirees and groups determined to protect entitlement benefits in protests across the country Thursday, aimed at heading off potential cuts of up to $882 million in the Social Security Administration’s operating budget for 2012.
Workers in more than 130 Social Security offices nationwide took to the streets as well in demonstrations, which were organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security, and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign.
The protests stressed the importance, the participants said, of maintaining adequate operational funding at a time when more and more Americans are applying for Social Security benefits because of the economic downturn and increased retirements among baby boomers.
“Cutting Social Security’s budget at a time that record baby boomers are seeking benefits is another example of bad Washington politics,” said Witold Skwierczynski, head of field operations for the government employees union. “These cuts will only punish Americans who count on Security and Medicare by adding to backlogs and limiting assistance for our seniors, the disabled and families that have lost a parent or spouse.”
Skwierczynski said budget cuts for 2011 alone had resulted in more than 3,500 layoffs of Social Security personnel and the closing of some facilities to help with processing.
The cuts also put an end to the annual mailing of Social Security benefit statements that detail how much Americans can expect to receive when they reach retirement age based on their income history.
Further cuts “would result in the imposition of 24 furlough days” for every administration employee in order to avoid further layoffs of up to 3,000 employees, Skwierczynski warned.
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