Although vociferously claiming entitlement programs aren’t on the table in securing deficit reductions, the President’s recent actions prove his rhetoric to be little more than political chicanery in upholding the integrity of Social Security, for an example. In an effort to stimulate the economy by putting more money into our pocketbooks, President Obama has proposed continuing the payroll tax reduction (now 4.1%) for Social Security. In fact, he wants to cut the Social Security payroll tax still further, or to 3.1% of earnings below the traditional maximum of 6.2% on $106,800 income. This amounts to a $240 billion dollar funding hit on Social Security, a program already in trouble due to changing age demographics. In 25-years, it will only be able to pay out $75.00 on every $100.00 owed in benefits.
More specifically, his proposal represents a direct raid on the Social Security Trust Fund, short-changing our young people. As is, his proposal cuts $175 million from the employment payroll contributions and $65 billion in employment contributions. The President’s new, massive stimulus package before Congress, $440 billion, draws 55% of its funding from Social Security funding. You do the math. It’s simply untenable, an indulgence in political opportunism, betraying American workers and their future.
Compounding the demographic and political pressures on Social Security, today’s massive unemployment has ignited a rush in applications for disability income (SSDI). According to the government’s own figures, applications showed a 21% increase just between 2008 and 2009. While the rising number of aging baby boomers may account for some of this increase, it seems more likely this sudden swell has is origin in our down economy. Frankly, one has to suspect Social Security is being used as a ruse for welfare in many instances. Obtaining benefits also qualifies one for Medicare, no matter one’s age.
In its defense, the Social Security administration argues it has strict monitoring procedures in place to assure legitimacy in the application process, with only 30% of applications approved. This is true, however, only at the initial application stage. While denied applications going through the appeal process can take up to 2-years, persistence pays and ultimately most applicants, or 67%, get their benefits approved before an Administrative Law Judge. Meanwhile, legal representation for applicants has turned into a lucrative specialty.
What’s mind-numbing is that this deluge in disability applications is leading some trustees of the Social Security disability program recommending Congress reallocate money from the Social Security Retirement program to offset deficits in disability funding!
As is, the present and proposed cuts in Social Security payroll taxes don’t offer assistance to the many unemployed, retired, disabled or those, like teachers, who are ineligible for SS. More substantially, short-changing Social Security exacerbates its perilous future.