Social Security employees protest cuts

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Rowan residents and Social Security Administration workers protested outside of the Social Security Office on Thursday.
About a dozen protesters lined the sides of the entrance at 1816 E. Innes St., passing out fliers and asking people to contact their congressmen.
Maggie Blackford, who works at the Salisbury SSA office, said they’re protesting because the benefits of those on Social Security will be affected if budget cuts go through.
Blackford passed out fliers to those entering the parking lot on Thursday, along with several other employees who were holding signs urging elected officials to reconsider the proposed cuts.
The best thing Rowan residents “can do right now is keep contacting their congressmen, their senators and all of their elected officials and let them know just how it’s going to affect them if the federal government budgets are cut,” Blackford said.
Claimants coming into the parking lot on Thursday seemed grateful for the black and white handout that listed “quick facts” like, “19 Social Security offices and 300 contact stations have closed in 2011” and “The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is also considering raising the retirement age to 69 with the early retirement age raised to 64,” which they wrote would result in a permanent benefit loss of 13 percent.
“It’s not just a matter of us having our paychecks cut, they’re talking about cutting the number of staffing we have to take care of their needs,” Blackford said. “They’re talking about closing offices. They’re talking about a lot of things that are going to affect them on a day-to-day basis.”
According to Blackford, the public has until Nov. 25 to give input on the proposed cuts.
Bob Morris, a former pastor who served in the military, said he was protesting because Social Security is his sole income.
Morris retired in 1995 after he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The stress, he said, made him paranoid and forced him out of the ministry.
“I have to depend on Social Security,” Morris said.
Morris’ son lost his job in September, which he said added to his frustration about the proposed cuts to Social Security.
“He’s been out of work about a month and a half and him trying to get social security was unbelievable,” he said. “With Christmas coming, it’s pretty rough.”
Morris said he gets about $1,000 a month from Social Security.
“A lot of people are living on $600 to $700 a month,” he said. “A lot of people don’t think they can make a difference.”