SSA workers protest proposed cuts

“There are 10,000 people everyday turning 65, so our workload is not decreasing whatsoever. In fact, it’s increasing and all during this they’re cutting back,” said Rick Hanna, a worker at the Springfield Social Security office and vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3448 union.

The 24 Springfield office workers took turns rotating out of their office on their lunch breaks, holding signs in the parking lot stating “Dear Santa, no furloughs” and other messages regarding proposed cuts. It was part of a nationwide protest by federal union workers regarding cuts to programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

If lawmakers can’t reach a deal before the end of the year, the so-called fiscal cliff could result in some $110 billion in mandatory cuts beginning in January. U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, along with other Republican leaders, offered a new 10-year, $2.2 trillion plan that includes increasing the age for Medicare eligibility and lowering cost-of-living hikes for Social Security benefits. Overall, the Social Security program would be cut by $102 billion over the next decade, according to the proposal made Monday.

“It’s a proposal with bipartisan support because it more accurately reflects the changes in costs,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner’s office.

But Hanna argued Social Security, which 240,000 people in the Miami Valley receive, needs to be left off the table, as do the workers who provide the service. Workers are facing possible unpaid furloughs of up to 40 days, as well as job and hour cuts if the changes are approved, Hanna said.

“With the recent number of claims that we’re taking, we can’t currently handle all of them, particularly if our hours and our budget is cut,” he said.

Springfield resident Kay Tackett said she feels entitlement programs such as Social Security should be spared given the unemployment situation.

“I just worry if there’s going to be anything left, anything for us and anything for my kids when I retire,” she said. “Congress needs to watch their budget and quit overspending on other programs.”

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