BAXTER — It was a one-man picket Wednesday in front of the Social Security Administration field office in Baxter but John Gudahl’s message was clear.
He claims proposed cuts to the Social Security Administration will adversely affect thousands of Brainerd area residents.
Informational pickets were held at Social Security offices across the country Wednesday by the American Federation of Government Employees Social Security workers, the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, the Alliance for Retired Americans and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
At issue is a Republican proposal in the House to cut $1.7 billion in Social Security Administration funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. Union officials say that would have a devastating impact on services.
Gudahl is the local representative for American Federation of Government Employees. There are seven employees at the Baxter field office.
“We have a small office, which is probably the reason I was the only one out there (Wednesday), because there would have been a loss of service,” Gudahl said.
Loss of service is something the Social Security Administration can’t afford, Gudahl said. He said the office is already understaffed, resulting in phone calls being unanswered and delays in processing claims. Further cuts to administration funding could result in furloughs one or two days per staff member per pay period, he said.
“That would mean people already waiting for hearings or reconsiderations would have to wait that much longer,” Gudahl said. “It would really hurt the public. We’d still do our best as we always do but I feel the public be adversely effected. This would not be in the public’s best interest.”
The Baxter field office is one of nine field offices in Minnesota. Gudahl said the Baxter office handles 21,300 Title 2 beneficiaries and 1,598 Title 16 beneficiaries.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.