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Article of Interest - Social Security

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Bridges4Kids LogoSocial Security Debate and Persons With Disabilities (PWD)
Steve Gold, Information Bulletin # 77, January 2005
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As the Administration begins to push to privatize Social Security, persons with disabilities have been virtually absent from the public discourse. The disability community should be asking their elected federal representatives some critical questions regarding the program.

Here is some background and some possible questions.

1. Social Security is a publicly federally administered Insurance Program, not a private individual Retirement program. The money taken out of our wages is (supposed to be) put in a Reserve Fund to fund future payments based on risk of death and disability, as well as retirement. The push for Private Accounts does NOT take into account the Insurance aspect of the program.

2. About 47 million persons receive monthly payments from three components of what the general public refer to as "Social Security."
These three are Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Retirement Insurance, and Social Security Survivors Insurance. I believe that the payments from the Reserve Fund are not earmarked to any one of the three programs but are intermingled.

What will happen to SS Disability Insurance and SS Survivors Insurance when the SS Retirement Insurance funds decrease as persons pull their payments out of the Reserve Fund and put their money into private accounts?

3. For nearly 7 million people, these payments are their entire monthly income. Nearly half of these 7 million would be below the poverty line if they did not receive their monthly payments.

4. Let's now focus on only persons with disabilities:

A. About 5 million persons receive ONLY Social Security Disability Insurance. These are persons who worked sufficiently long to pay into the Reserve Fund and to receive these benefits when they became disabled. By definition, they are under 65 years of age and have not been converted to Social Security Retirement Insurance.

B. There are another 5 million persons who receive ONLY the federally funded Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits because they are either blind or disabled persons. These persons can have the exact same disability as persons who receive SSDI, but they have not worked long enough to have paid enough into the Reserve Fund to qualify for SSDI.

How the SSI program will be impacted and affected by current SSDI proposals has not been addressed or answered. For the disability community, this is critical. Why would the federal government continue to fund SSI isolated from the normal growth of SSDI? Does the disability community want the SSI program to look more like an "entitlement" program or be exposed to the political process without a full SSDI program?

C. There are more than another million persons (between 18 -65) who receive BOTH SSI and SSDI - the "Dual Eligibles." How will these persons be impacted or affected? Will a persons' SSDI monthly payment be made dependent on stock market returns? Does anyone think Congress will permit SSI to increase to make up the loss of the SSDI investment?

D. What about Medicare and Medicaid? How will these be funded under a privatized SSDI system? Now, persons on either SSI or dual SSI/SSDI receive Medicaid directly from their State Medicaid Program. Federal Medicare payments are supplemented by individuals.

Who really thinks their State will pick up the difference. (Read PWD, YOUR GOVERNOR AND "REFORMING" MEDICAID - THE BATTLE CONTINUES - Information Bulletin #75, 12/04 on my webpage

E. There is also the third part of the Social Security program - Social Security Survivors Insurance benefits. Many persons with disabilities who were born with their disability currently receive monthly checks based on the earnings of their parents payments into the Social Security reserve fund.

What will happen to disabled persons who currently receive Survivors benefits if the market takes a dip?

Marty Ford of the Arc of the U.S. and CCD's presented terrific testimony before Congress' SS Task Force. She and they requested a "Beneficiary Impact Statement" regarding how the various Social Security proposals will affect persons with disabilities.

What an idea? No change without analysis. Know the facts BEFORE one makes changes and even discuss those facts as part of the dialogue.

Ask your Congressional representatives to support a Beneficiary Impact Statement.

Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues

Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at with a searchable Archive at this site divided into different subjects. To contact Steve Gold directly, write to

Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at


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