Former worker defends Social Security employees

March 14, 2011

As a federal government retiree, I have long become accustomed to opinion columns and letters to the editor denigrating government employees at all levels. Unfortunately, the fact is that in some cases such criticism is warranted, especially since civil service regulations often make it difficult, if not impossible, to terminate those employees who abuse the system. Are there such employees who abuse the system? Of course. But that is no different than private industry where certain individuals seem to lack any semblance of a work ethic. The main difference is that, in most cases, it is much easier to eliminate such employees in the private sector.

However, I could not let the letter from Gregory Prusch ("Social Security employees deserve a pay cut or two," March 6) stand without responding.

I do not know in what component of the Social Security Administration (SSA) Mr. Prusch worked, but I assure you my experience at SSA through years of assignment to claims, management and staff positions left me with a radically different impression. The majority of the persons with whom I worked were dedicated and conscientious, constantly working beyond expectations to fulfill their responsibilities. Individuals who worked through their (unpaid) lunch breaks, stayed late when necessary, took work home or came in on days off were not the exception.

I would be one of the first to advocate ridding the system of those who see government employment only as a gravy train, an opportunity to get paid for doing little or nothing. But, let us not stereotype all government employees as parasites on the taxpayer. Instead, let us differentiate and give credit to the many employees at all levels of government who treat their employment as an opportunity to serve their fellow citizens.

Ron Tilghman, Jarrettsville

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