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Social Security Adminstration Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans


Steve Kofahl, the president of AFGE Local 3937 and an employee of Social Security Administration offered this perspective as the agency, celebrated its 75th anniversary:   

” On Monday, August 16, I was pleased to participate in two events in our ongoing efforts to protect, improve, and celebrate Social Security.  The day started when I joined David C. John of the Heritage Foundation and Economist Dean Baker to engage in a discussion about Social Security solvency on KUOW, Seattle’s 9 a.m NPR radio show.(Listen to Steve’s interview here) The show began with the moderator’s interview of Alice Rivlin, former Clinton Budget Director and current Obama appointee to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  The 18-member Commission is charged with submitting a set of recommendations to reduce long-term deficits for fast-track consideration to the White House and Congress by December 1, if at least 14 agree.  A majority of Commission members are taking aim at Social Security, although it has never been the cause of deficit spending.  We are concerned that only 3 of the members appear to be strong advocates for the programs, so we are pulling out all the stops.  Rivlin suggested that both the early retirement age (62) and the full retirement age (66 and scheduled to go to 67) could be raised, and that those who couldn’t work could file for disability benefits.   

When the show was then turned over to us, we had a lively discussion.  Baker spoke eloquently on behalf of protecting and preserving Social Security, but disagreed with my recommendation to “scrap the cap,” which would extend Social Security taxation to all earnings (as Medicare currently does), not just to those at $106,800 per year and below.  He said that the rich would find ways to hide their earnings to avoid paying the tax, and instead suggested a gradual increase in the taxable limit, which he acknowledged would only close part of the projected shortfall over the next 75 years.  I noted that by eliminating the cap, we would close any funding gap, and could even improve benefits for the most vulnerable (women, poor minorities).  As expected, John favored benefit cuts, including an increase in the full retirement age, over revenue increases.  I pointed out that Social Security once paid 80% at age 62, when the full retirement age was 65, but would only pay 50% at age 62 if full retirement age was increased to age 70. I argued that any increase in the retirement age would further delay the 1.75 million backlogged disability claims and appeals, and applicants sometimes waiting 3 years or more to receive payments.   

In the afternoon, I joined my coalition partners in Social Security Works/Washington to celebrate Social Security’s 75th Birthday.  The Greenwood Senior Center was standing room only, with about 300 in attendance, and the event attracted Senator Murray and Congressman McDermott.  After three beneficiaries gave compelling accounts of the importance of Social Security in their lives, our elected representatives assured us that they would continue to protect Social Security, specifically from any schemes to privatize it.”   

For up-to-date issues involving the Social Security Administration and how it may affect you, visit www.preserveyoursocialsecurity.com .

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