Something's Happening Here
INTERESTING STUFF: 26 February 2011

Update: Social Security and Government Shutdown

category_bug_politics.gif May I just say: Good god, I'm tired of this shit.

Congress members spend 50 percent of their time raising money from corporations for their next campaign; another 25 percent yammering inanities at media cameras; and when you subtract meal and potty breaks, maybe they work 10 or 15 percent of the time.

Okay, I'm better now.

Congress has made not one step forward in ending the impasse that would lead to a government shutdown seven days from today. The Republicans say it's the Democrats' fault, the Democrats say the reverse and they don't actually do anything.

Meanwhile, the media, punditocracy and the people wonder what happens to everyday life during a government shutdown. The concern on this blog is Social Security benefit checks.

If you do not listen to President Obama, Senate Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – all of whom have said Social Security checks will not go out during a shutdown – elsewhere the consensus is, with a reservation or two, that they will be mailed and deposited as usual.

The Christian Science Monitor reports correctly that checks were delivered on schedule during the 1996 shutdown, but further notes that

“OMB officials say they are not responding to such hypothetical questions, because they don't expect a shutdown.”

Really. And your reason for that belief is?

CNN Money rounded up a couple of reasonably well-credentialed folks who are certain they know Social Security payments are safe:

"'I am absolutely sure the checks would be sent out,' said John F. Cooney, a partner at law firm Venable who designed shutdown plans for the government while employed at the Office of Management and Budget.

“Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and a trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, backed that view, saying claims that benefits won't be paid are 'not true.'"

AARP spokesperson, Heather Heppner, isn't so sure:

”In particular, she said, those who are dependent on Social Security checks might face delays that could be devastating depending on a person's economic situation.”

AP says unequivocally but without sourcing that “Social Security checks would go out.”

As far as I can discern from a few phone calls and way too many hours searching the web yesterday, none of these people know what they're talking about. (I just hate it when I use up an entire day looking for a fact or two and all I get out of it is a post like this one with no answers. Which may account for my crankiness in the first couple of paragraphs.)

Who are we to believe when the top three Democrats in Washington say we will not get Social Security checks but most others disagree?

What the latter are basing their opinions on is that checks were sent during the 1996 shutdown, but there is no federal law requiring that to be so as there is for the military, FBI, security services and others to remain functioning.

Because 54 million people depend on Social Security, many for their entire income, you would think someone in government would step forward with a definitive answer. I mean, we're not talking movie money here; it's food and rent and heating and medicine. It is crucial to elders' planning to know if they can count on their Social Security benefit.

Earlier this week, I arranged for a transfer of some cash to my checking account and if my benefit check arrives, I can return it. But as some of you noted in Monday's comments, many people don't have that option.

Like I said above: god, I'm tired of this shit.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: The Dentist


And furthermore why did they take this vacation week when they could have stayed in DC to get out of this mess!! A weeks vacation for President's day/week! You gotta' be kidding. Dee

It all leaves a person feeling pretty vulnerable.

In all fairness to Congress (I can't believe I just said that), this past week is not a vacation but time to go back home to their constituents. But, this is an emergency! If Harry Reid had the brass ovaries of Nancy Pelosi, he would have made everyone in the Senate stay in Washington to hash this out.

That said, listening to local newsradio here in DC, someone spoke to a spokesperson at SSA and they said the checks would still go out as they would have a skeleton workforce to process them. They learned from 1996 (when they also had a skeleton crew working) to have more people on hand that would take furlough days another time.

I petrified. My SS check is supposed to be deposited on the 3rd so it might be there on time but I'm not holding my breath. It's my only source of income.

I just hope my Republican landlord understands. I might have to remind him that he's a Christian.

My Tea Party Congressman, Jim Renacci (who I campaigned against and will again) sent a newletter last week requesting my input. He doesn't want my input -- this is what he said in the email:

"It has been a busy but productive week in Washington, and I believe that slowly but surely we are headed in the right direction. I look forward to continuing to represent you in Congress by continuing along this path to restore fiscal responsibility."

He's actually proud of what he's doing. His office is out in a suburb where the cops are nasty so picketing isn't an attractive option. And without my SS, I can't afford bail or gas to get there.

What's an old lady to do?

What I read is that it's non-essential services that would not be open for business which doesn't mean SS but National Parks, and that kind of thing. They are bound to use fear to put pressure to bear and maybe nobody knows for sure what will happen. There wouldn't be anybody answering phones though to give information or change a bank. The Republicans are trying to say this is the fault of the Democrats because if it shuts down they didn't want that, they just wanted to cut services for the poor, that's all.

Either way you look at it, it's maddening and extremely cruel.

AND I wouldn't send the money you withdrew right away but give it awhile to be sure they have a budget for a year because they can do this again and again after temporary fixes. They like us to think they are important...

Point taken, Rain. Thanks.

I am beyond disgusted with the whole thing. This is the government that we, the people (or at least the rich and right-wing people) elected, so maybe it's the government we deserve? I don't think so! I'm on my way to my volunteer shift at a local cat shelter--I'm getting to the point where I much prefer the company of cats these days.

Since most (if not all) Social Security checks are not really checks but direct deposits, wouldn't they have their computers programmed to disburse the funds without anyone having to be there to punch a button? You would think in this day and age that the system would be automated...

I'm really getting sick of seeing headlines of a new "crisis" every day. If it isn't a government shutdown, it's Republicans cutting social programs, or oil prices rising due to unrest in the Middle East, or the Republicans trying to rollback safety inspections of toys made overseas -- the list goes on and on. We're all supposed to be eternally afraid. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

My blood pressure is not going to be able to survive the Republican Robin Hood in reverse.

I wouldn't go take my blood pressure right now either. I think I can manage for awhile but my sister gets less than $800 since she had to retire early due to disabilty. Take Medicare and Part D out, which she needs, and that's precious little to survive on.
Take the personal view out and I am still royally pissed.
Some days we hates them all, precious.

The system is broken.

Kay, what you can do is call or email Jim Renacci's office and tell them what you think. I've been occasionally been pleasantly surprised by the results when I've called or written to my representatives.

Ditto to the above.....I thought I was done listening to petty rivalry when my children were raised...I am so sick of all the controversy. I am beginning to feel that there will never be any consensus among our government officials. I sometimes feel that this is all to distract us from what they are pulling off behind our backs....Makes me think of a poster quote "Just because you are not paranoid, it does not mean they are not out to get you"

I hope that all your readers will take the time to read the compilation of recession stories by constituents of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Those stories are deeply personal and absolutely shattering. How could these things be happening in America?

It is immeasurably sad to me that ours may be the last generation for a very long time to live the American Dream of education, stable employment, upward mobility and a reasonably secure retirement. Apparently, in today's America, only the rich and powerful are permitted to partake of that dream. Although I don't think plutocracy is what our nation's founders had in mind back in 1776, that's what we've become, largely as a result of systemic GREED that has built up almost unchecked over the past 40 years. While greed is nothing new, there are times throughout history when all balance has been lost, and this is one of those times.

Every state, county, city and town has innumerable stories like those that Sen. Sanders compiled, and those stories need to be heard. Baby Boomer women will recall consciousness-raising and how effective it was. Well, ordinary citizens' voices need to be raised again, this time in the cause of economic justice and fairness. It is NOT just, it is NOT fair and it is NOT right that the bulk of our nation's wealth is concentrated in the hands of 1%, while hard-working, middle and working class Americans are losing their livelihoods, homes and futures all across our land. The tea partyers are right that the system is broken, but they are dead wrong about how to fix it.

The rich do not need lower taxes! They need to step up and help the country that created the conditions which allowed them to amass their fortunes. We ordinary citizens far outnumber the rich and powerful, but except for the recent pushbacks in Wisconsin and Ohio, we have stood by in silence for too long.

I intend to consciousness-raise however, whenever and wherever I can, but I'm only one very small voice. To make ourselves heard, there must be millions of us on-line, on-message that America values all of its people and that we will not be bought as a nation by the Koch brothers!

Posted by: Elizabeth Rogers |

Social security leaves me particularly vulnerable I get 674 a month and at one tine in my life I was making the maximimun payout in social security pay out Due to a very nasty divorce and my pre disposition to mental illnes I had a severe mental breakdown in 1995 I was raised upper class educated well and contributed to my country I am sitll well known in my feild of coice even though I cannot do it now was a car customizer The only options I have at this point is to live in a dirty un organized small apartment I try to learn new skills and each time I make some progress my illness comes back in one form or another I lived life as an artist and am stuck making moves because i have acquired neurological problems and I am not with healthy Intelligent people as I would like to be so why did I get ssi instead of ssdi which would help me along a little better Im 51 and dont want to die now I did get the ticket to ride program but you cant erase memories of where you were especially an artist any sugestions

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