Government shutdown: Social Security Administration workers work day and paycheck uncertain

Posted at 11:27 PM, Jan 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 12:59:50-05

In Maryland around 300,000 federal workers are unsure if they can go to work Monday and if they do, when they will get paid.

Maryland has more Social Security Administration workers than any other state.

Witold Skwierczynski the president of the American Federation of Government Employees National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals, he represents Social Security workers from across the country.

He said in a shutdown non-essential employee can’t work, and the essential employees who help people and answer questions won’t know when they will get paid.

"A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck so they can't pay their bills,” said Skwierczynski.  “People who work in Social Security have various pay grades. People on the lower end of the spectrum it effects even more. If you have family and children and your making like forty fifty thousand a year it's hard to make ends meet unless you get that paycheck."

In a shutdown employees who work the phones and meet with people for the SSA have to tell people that by law they can't help people with a list of things they usually do.

Skwierczynski said the current proposed budget would cut the Social Security Administrations funding by $492 million dollars.

"If that is part of this budget process and that passes congress, we'll be subject to furloughs, there won't be enough money to pay salaries for the whole year, there will be no overtime a hiring freeze. The details of the budget are important."

Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin says it's ridiculous that there isn't a budget resolution.

"The elections are over let's put politics aside let's get the government open. Let's get a budget for our country, let's defend ourselves with our defense budget. Let's provide adequate funds for the different agencies and let's compromise. let's put the partisan politics aside get the government open and get that budget done."

Maryland 1st District Republican Congressman Andy Harris says it's the democrats holding it up, and hopes it's resolved before Monday morning.

"Withholding pay from government workers and our troops in return for demand for a negotiation on illegal immigrants, I think that's not okay with a majority of Americans,"

Congressman Harris will contribute his salary during the shutdown to crisis pregnancy centers in his district. 

A spokesperson for Rep. Harris noted that he voted for the stopgap measure in the House on Thursday that would have avoided a shutdown; the House passed a FY18 budget bill in October but the Senate had not acted on it. 

When the shutdown ends it will be up to Congress to pass a bill to get the workers paid for their hours during the shutdown.