, Newburyport, MA

November 2, 2013

Social Security 'reform' would bring harm

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

For some time, the buzzword in political circles has been “reform” in education, taxes and “entitlements.” “Reform” has a pleasing ring to it, implying that all these matters will be changed for the better. Upon close examination of some proposals in these areas, we find that maybe they are not designed to make things better, but as the word “reform” suggests — just changed — and for the worse.

Social Security, the program that for the last 78 years has kept the elderly from falling into dire poverty, has been the target of the Republicans since its inception. Social Security is not going broke. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a surplus today of $2.8 trillion and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible person for the next 20 years. Social Security has not contributed to the deficit. Social Security is funded independently by FICA taxes that are paid by workers and their employers.

One of the “reforms” would increase the eligibility age for Social Security. There is little regard in these “reforms” for people, long before they reach 70, who can’t do their job any longer because of age, or lose their job and have no chance of being rehired. Social Security currently supports more than 57 million Americans and contributes to an average two-thirds of income for those over 65. Without it, 44 percent of the elderly would qualify as poor, but with Social Security, the poverty rate is only 9 percent. Imagine a 65-year-old, ineligible for Social Security, now having to depend on federal or state poverty programs, charity or dependence on his/her children or other relatives. That would not save the government money — or protect the dignity of the individual.

The so-called chained-CPI, which recalculates how COLA’s are formulated, is not a “modest tweak.” If the chained CPI went into effect today, a senior aged 65 would receive $658 a year less in Social Security benefits when he/she is 75, and $1,100 a year less at age 85. Further, the average disabled veteran would lose tens of thousands of dollars in benefits over his or her lifetime

Alfred Moskowitz