Social Security helped Beth Finke’s family survive the death of her father

From Social Security: What’s at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies

Native Chicagoan Beth Finke knows first-hand how Social Security can benefit children and their families. As the youngest in a family of seven children, she became a first-time Social Security recipient at three-years-old following the death of her father. At the time, four of her brothers and sisters also lived at home. Beth and her siblings received Social Security survivor benefits, which allowed her mother to make ends meet.

“The survivor benefits literally allowed our family to survive,” Beth said.

In addition to helping her family survive, Social Security played another important role in Beth’s life as a young adult. During the years Beth attended college, the government continued to provide Social Security benefits for youth up to age 22 enrolled in college. By eliminating the need to immediately enter the workforce at age 18 to support themselves and their families, this extension helped many students like Beth complete their post-secondary education successfully. This benefit, since rescinded and unavailable for today’s young adults, made it possible for Beth to go to college and get a degree in journalism. Continue reading “Social Security helped Beth Finke’s family survive the death of her father”

Social Security helped Congressman Paul Ryan when his father died unexpectedly

From Social Security: What’s at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies

On the day of Congressman Paul Ryan’s birth in 1970, President Richard Nixon unveiled a federal budget proposal that included a large increase in Social Security payments. As a teenager, Social Security would later play an important role in the personal life of Representative Ryan (R-WI).

At the age of 16, Ryan’s father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. The death left the 10th grader, his three older siblings, and his mother alone.

“I did a lot of growing up pretty fast then,” Ryan says. His father’s death “threw me for a loop for a couple of years. I did a lot of soul searching, a lot of self-discovery. It gave me a pretty cold, quick lesson which was that life was short, so make the best of it.” Continue reading “Social Security helped Congressman Paul Ryan when his father died unexpectedly”

Social Security helped Mary Thompson raise her family

From Social Security: What’s at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies

Although she has never married or had children of her own, Mary Thompson knew that she wanted to care for her two young nieces after her sister died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm in 2004. “I knew I wanted to raise Brianna and Brandy. But I really did have a fear of how I was going to do it financially as a single person,” she said.

Initially, providing care for two children unexpectedly strained Mary’s budget. Her salary as a human resources assistant at a bank only allowed her to comfortably meet the needs of a single person. Suddenly, she needed to make it work for three.

“What I was making was not enough to handle food and clothes for the girls let alone if they would want to go to a movie or out to eat with their friends,” she said. “I was concerned. I didn’t know how I could make ends meet. My paycheck took care of house bills and whatever I needed personally, and that was about it.”

But about a year after her sister’s death, Thompson got some relief when she learned that her young nieces qualified for survivor benefits from Social Security. Continue reading “Social Security helped Mary Thompson raise her family”

Washingtonians will lose access to Social Security benefits under House GOP proposal

How the GOP Budget Bill Would Affect Social Security in Washington state

Hidden away in this year’s budget package, Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing a $1.7 billion cut to the Social Security Administration (SSA). If carried out, the budget cut will not only undermine Social Security’s promise to pay every American the benefits they have earned – it will also make Social Security less efficient and more prone to fraud.

The SSA is an extremely efficient program, with administrative costs at or below 1% of total expenditures. Funded at current levels, the organization has a number of very positive accomplishments under its belt: reduced average wait time for an appeal decision from 535 days in 2008 to 373 days in 2011; maintained service levels for beneficiaries despite a sharp increase in initial applications; and saved billions of dollars by identifying those no longer eligible for benefits.

But the budget proposal by House Republicans would likely reverse those gains, stall projects aimed at achieving further efficiency to offset the large influx of baby boomers, and cause up to four additional weeks of SSA office closures in 2011.

To determine the effects of the GOP plan on each state, the Democratic Staff of the House Ways and Means Committee put together a state-by-state analysis of the expected impacts. In Washington state alone, they estimate:

  • 17,400 applications for Social Security benefits (retirement, disability, and survivor) will not be processed;
  • 4,908 disabled workers will not be able to appeal their benefit denials;
  • 18,895 babies won’t be assigned Social Security numbers;
  • 67,479 people will go to the Social Security office for help and find the lights off and the doors locked;
  • 44,560 people will call the Social Security office and get no answer.

Social Security benefits provide a critical lifeline to more than 1 million retired, disabled and widowed Washingtonians and their families. It helps keep our state economy rolling, injecting more than $1.1 billion in 2009 alone. Cutting the Social Security budget won’t save any money – it will result in longer wait times, fewer audits for fraud, and higher costs in the long-run.

Contact your representative and urge them to vote against the cut. Click here to find your representative’s contact information.

You can see the full report on the proposed cuts, including impacts in other states, here.

Making Social Security More Progressive: The Games They Play in Washington

Via The Huffington Post | By Dean Baker

The insiders in Washington really really want to cut Social Security, and they are prepared to say or do anything to do it. Among the latest lines is that they want to make Social Security more “progressive.” This sort of rhetoric appeared in a report from the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) in a plan that proposes substantial cuts in benefits.

…The reason why CAP wants to cut the benefits of factory workers and school teachers is because this is where you have to go if you want to have any substantial reductions in Social Security payments.

…When they talk about cutting benefits for “affluent retirees” or making the program more “progressive,” they are talking about cutting benefits for schoolteachers, firefighters and other middle-income workers.

Read more from Making Social Security More Progressive »