Under Commissioner Astrue’s flawed leadership, SSA has turned its back on its historic legacy by adopting policies that hurt the very people it is supposed to protect, including a directive for employees to aggressively steer applicants – despite their age or disability -to use computers and the Internet to file their claims, and a gag rule that prevents SSA workers from guiding citizens as they apply for benefits. This radical change in agency policy prevents SSA staff from assisting the public they are sworn to serve.
Now SSA faces an ever greater opponent: Obama’s Deficit Commission. The recommendations put out by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, would not only freeze federal wages for three years, slash the size of the federal work force by 200,000 jobs, and consider major reductions to civil service and military retirement programs; it also proposes slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits that working-class Americans rely on to make ends meet, while retaining the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich.
The commission’s proposals to slash Social Security include, among others:
— Raising the retirement age from 67 to 69. Along with the inherent benefit cuts raising the retirement age brings, this action also discriminates against blue collar workers. While the life expectancy of Americans has increased over the past few decades, there is a vast difference in 2 years of labor between a lawyer sitting behind a desk and a factory line worker on his or her feet all day.
— Cuts the benefits of middle-class families. According the Social Security Chief Actuary, benefits for retirees and disabled workers will be cut between 17% and 36% for young people entering the workforce today.
— Reduce Cost of Living (COLA) adjustments. COLA should be increasing – not decreased – to keep pace with rising health care costs.
Social Security did not cause the budget deficit. To make drastic, unnecessary cuts to Social Security breaks the trust of Americans who have paid into the system with the expectation that it will be there for their greatest time of need. Since its inception, the Social Security Administration and its employees has provided excellent services and America’s retirees, disabled workers and their families. Putting Social Security on the chopping block is wrong for everyone.