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Front Page » September 15, 2009 » Opinion » Letter to the editor: Shrinking SS payments
Published 1,922 days ago

Letter to the editor: Shrinking SS payments


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By Robert L. Warren
East Carbon

Editor:

Millions of older people face shrinking Social Security checks next year, trustees who oversee Social Security are projecting there won't be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the next two years. By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly payments would drop for millions of people in the Medicare prescription drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly to seniors, especially with their health care increase costs, it is a big deal. Advocates say older people face higher prices because they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health care, where costs rise faster than inflation. Many also have suffered from declining home values and shrinking stock portfolios just as they are relying on those assets for income. "Anyone who has/had savings and investments has seen some serious losses." About 50 million retired and disabled Americans receive Social Security benefits. The average monthly benefit for retirees is $1,153 this year. More than 32 million people are in the Medicare prescription drug program. Average monthly premiums are set to go from $28 this year to $30 next year, though they vary by plan. About 6 million people in the program have premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security payments, according to the Social Security Administration. Millions of people with Medicare Part B coverage for doctors' visits also have their premiums deducted from Social Security payments. Part B premiums are expected to rise as well. There is no such hold-harmless provision for drug premiums. Just think should government cut the payments to 15 million illegal trespassing aliens, Social Security would save 134 billion to distribute to the recipients' receiving benefits from the program which they supported throughout their working lives that would be an average of $130.00 increase per current recipient! And this does not take into account education, free lunches, medical, housing, transportation our taxes are paying to illegal trespassing aliens.

Critics argue that Social Security recipients shouldn't get an increase when inflation is going up and projected to get worse. They note that recipients got a big increase in January after energy prices had started to fall. They also note that Social Security recipients received one-time $250 payments in the spring as part of the government's economic stimulus package. Social Security is also facing long-term financial problems. The retirement program is projected to start paying out more money than it receives in 2016. Without changes, the retirement fund will be depleted in 2037, according to the Social Security trustees' annual report this year.

President Barack Obama has said he would tackle Social Security but it is set on the back burner until next year, after Congress finishes work on health care, climate change and new financial regulations. Lawmakers are preoccupied by health care, making it difficult to address other tough issues. Advocates for older people hope their efforts will get a boost in October, when the Social Security Administration officially announces that there will not be an increase in benefits next year. "I think a lot of seniors do not know what's coming down the pike, and I believe that when they hear that, they're going to be upset," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who is working on a proposal for one-time payment for Social Security recipients. "It is my view that seniors are going to need help this year, and it would not be acceptable for Congress to simply turn its back on seniors," he said.

For the first time seniors are expendable...remember this during the next elections.

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