A message to members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) working for Social Security:
AFGE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SSA FIELD OPERATIONS LOCALS, AFL–CIO
SSA Budget Cuts Furlough Update
Yesterday, Acting SSA Commissioner, Carolyn Colvin met with SSA’s [Social Security Administration's] AFGE General Committee Officers to brief the Union on sequestration. [After one initial meeting, former Commissioner Astrue had refused to meet with AFGE leaders. This meeting is one sign that things have changed at least a little since Astrue left.]
AC [Acting Commissioner] Colvin informed AFGE that under the current budget continuing resolution (CR), she believes SSA will not have to furlough employees if sequestration is implemented. However, she is clear that if the budget changes, furlough may have to be revisited.
There are two current situations that may change SSA’s current budget:
AC Colvin also informed AFGE that to avoid furloughs, there will be cuts to SSA’s budget in other areas. Some of those areas are expected to include a freeze on all overtime, hiring and travel; and release of all temporary hires and reemployed annuitants. As employees leave the agency for retirement or other reasons, their positions will not be replaced.
- The CR expires at the end of March. Congress is working on a new CR for the remainder of the year. Some Members of Congress want to see cuts to the CR in place of sequestration, as stated in the Budget Control Act of 2012.
- Legislation to override sequestration. Current discussions in the House and Senate may lead to fewer cuts in the Department of Defense cuts and shift to additional discretionary spending cuts. SSA’s budget is included in the discretionary spending.
All of this will lead to fewer employees to do the work. Backlogs will grow; waiting times will rise; reception areas will become and/or remain full; calendars will back up; more calls will be in cue; and busy rates will increase. AFGE is very concerned that the adverse impact on public service will result in more complaints and hostility from the public.
AFGE will be providing you with information during this difficult, confusing period of budget discussions.
If SSA dodges the bullet of furloughs, many of our fellow Federal employees who work in our communities and cities, may not. AFGE will be planning a number of events in the next month to address the impact of budget cuts for all federal agencies, including SSA.