As thousands of government employees picketed Social Security Administration offices around the country, a poor turnout muted protestors in Aiken.


The American Federation of Government Employees and Social Security workers picketed across the street from the SSA’s Corporate Parkway office between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The small office, with a staff of just 17, saw workers rotating to protest during their lunch break.


AFGE members held signs proclaiming the impact cuts to the SSA would have on service.


“We are representing the AFGE, protesting the idea of cutting the Social Security Administration’s budget, because of the impact it’s going to have on … everybody,” said Mari Edwards, a representative of the AFGE. “It should be off budget. Social Security was off budget up until the Reagan era. It is self-funding, the money from FICA goes into Social Security. Social Security uses that money. It’s a closed system. It’s not going to affect the deficit.”


AFGE said any cuts to the social program could wreak havoc on the elderly, disabled and other claimants.


“What’s already happened with the cuts is that the Allendale office has closed down. Now people from that area have to come into Aiken to get things done,” Edwards said. If no deal is reached, SSA “will be reducing our hours, we will be open to the public for an even shorter amount of time. And with less staffing, it is going to take us longer to process claims people file.”


“Also, we are facing furloughs, which means we will be open less for the public, and nobody is going to be there behind the scenes working,” Edwards continued.


The group claims that sequestration could cut $600 million from SSA’s budget and Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget or the Simpson/Bowels recommendation would cut $1 billion.