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Possible Social Security delay worries some seniors

Published: Fri, July 15, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

By William K. Alcorn



Mildred Brooke of Boardman considers President Barack Obama’s warning that Social Security checks might be delayed next month “a little blackmail.”

“It’s just something to get those people in Washington, D.C., moving. I don’t really think it will happen,” said Brooke, 89, while bowling in a Senior Olympics event Wednesday at Camelot Lanes.

If it does, a lot of people would be hurting, she said.

“You have to think about that (being without Social Security) before you retire and forget about that plastic,” said Brooke, a Social Security recipient.

This statement by Obama on Tuesday has raised concern: “I cannot guarantee that those checks [totaling $23 billion] go out on Aug. 3 if we haven’t resolved this issue [debt limit]. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

The administration says the U.S. debt limit will be reached Aug. 2, the day before the next batch of Social Security checks are to go out.

Social Security payments and veterans’ checks, among other payments, could be at risk if negotiators don’t reach a deal to raise the debt limit above $14.3 trillion by Aug. 2. That’s when the Treasury Department says the government will stop being able to borrow money.

The issue is not whether to increase the government’s borrowing limit, but how to do it. Republicans want the government to stop spending an amount equal to what it borrows; and Democrats are calling for tax increases to pay for the additional loans.

In the meantime, seniors and veterans and others are left wondering if they will receive their benefit checks on time, and some wonder how they would get along without the money.

Another participant in Wednesday’s Senior Olympics event, Lista Mellott, 92, of New Waterford, said she could handle being without her Social Security check for a little while, but it would “hurt after a bit.”

Sandy Smith, 74, of Akron, said she would be concerned if both she and her husband lost their Social Security for any length of time.

Smith said she has a problem with how the federal government operates.

“Raising the debt limit bothers me ... somehow they have to figure out how to spend only what they get in. But for some people, their Social Security check means everything, and if it would keep Social Security checks coming, I favor raising the debt limit as a short-term solution,” she said.

Smith said a long-term financial fix is needed.

The Area Agency on Aging 11 believes that older adults heavily rely on their monthly checks and that government default should not be an option.

“We strongly urge legislators to work out their differences without such dire consequences to older adults,” said Lisa Solley, chief of community relations, wellness and training for the agency.

She said more than 13 million older adults in the country live in or on the edge of poverty, often on less than $22,000 each year. These seniors have to decide every day whether to pay for food, medicine, or a place to live. They live one bad break, one accident, or one layoff away from economic disaster, Solley said.

“Seniors, veterans and many disabled need to pay rent, buy groceries or pay utilities every month. The majority don’t have savings accounts to carry them and cover all of their needs. If the government can’t get checks out, this could be life-altering for hundreds of thousands of people,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Wednesday in an email that he, along with other members of Congress, will continue to work to stop the potential default.

“Republicans must work with Democrats to avoid a default crisis and the interruption of vital services like pay for military service members or Social Security checks for senior citizens,” he said.

Brown said government employees, including members of Congress, also won’t be paid if the budget deficit isn’t resolved in time.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, couldn’t be reached to comment Thursday.

The National Council on Aging fully supports a balanced approach to solving the nation’s economic struggle. “But it’s unthinkable to drastically cut programs that help so many of our most vulnerable citizens survive every day,” said James Firman, president and chief executive officer of NCOA.

This is not the first time the federal government has faced shutdown. The government shutdown of 1995 and early 1996 occurred after a conflict between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress over funding for Medicare, education, the environment and public health.

When a budget for the new fiscal year was not approved Oct. 1, 1995, the federal government operated on a continuing resolution authorizing interim funding for departments. Clinton vetoed the spending bill sent to him by Congress, causing the government to put nonessential workers on furlough and suspend non-essential services for about five weeks.

Contributor: Staff writer Elise Franco


1missief002(1 comment)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Mr. Obama I would just like to say I would like to invite you to iraq or afghanistan and come back with a tbi, ptsd, a missing limb, or a comrad not come home with and let all theses hero veterans know how you would feel if you didn't get your rightfully earned social security or va benefits! I would especially like to pin point those veterans that have ptsd or tbi. They don't need another worry in there life. They have more than enough to deal with without worring how there gonna pay there bills or eat. So Mr. Obama stop acting like a child and start taking care of our heros and elderly!!!!!

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Seniors need not worry. Neither party will allow your SS payment to be suspended or unpaid. They just are not that stupid.

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3ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Govt. brings in $200 billion per month in tax payments. SS costs $50 billion per month to fund. So if they cut SS payments what would they continue to fund?

This is Obama Blackmail, pure and simple! Don't fall for it. Stick to our guns and keep the pressure on to cut spending!

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4dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Amazing how this president can spout an absolute lie and no one in the media calls him on it. He says there "may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it." That is not true. The money is coming in every day from current workers FICA taxes and if SS recipients do not get their checks, it will be because this president chooses to play them as pawns in his political game. The Vindicator should do its job and look a little further into this issue, instead of just parroting democratic talking points. At least the 88 year old woman bowler had enough sense to know it is a Washington game.

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5grand4dad(218 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

It's a Washington game all right but the republicans need to give some too. It is high time that the wealthier among us and the big corporations lose some of their tax loopholes and start paying their fair share of taxes. Stop hurting all the little people and let those among us who are more fortunate bear more of the burden. I'm tired of big corporations getting away with paying little or no taxes (GE for example) and republicans saying this is ok and if we raise taxes on these people, job creation will suffer. This is pure nonsense.

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6walter_sobchak(2674 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Definitely Obama Blackmail! The FICA program was set up to be a "pay as you go" plan and current monthly premium payments exceed payouts. Plus, since the govt prepared for the "baby-boomer" layouts, the SS fund is actually far in the positive, except that it holds T-bills and notes of a nation that is going bankrupt. Fear and loathing in DC. However,the people have a lot more access to information other than the old Big 3 network newscasts.

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7Woody(491 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago


Don't you think it is time for the 50% of you who pay NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX AT ALL, to start paying their "fair share"?

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8Rockabilly(93 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

These same Republicans voted to raise the debt limit and lower taxes on the rich when George W. Bush was President and this is the result. There is more than one way to reduce the debt. One is to spend the governments revenue wisely, finance economic growth or a combination of both. Realistic people would go with the combination. Nobody wants to pay unnecessary taxes but realistically taxes are what buys us all civilization. Taxes buy us a strong military, police and fire protection, education, infrastructure, social security, food safety, technology, clean and efficient energy, medical breakthroughs, EPA, FDA, FAA and many other social programs that benefit all Americans. An entire nation of people should not give up a civilized society only to provide the lowest tax rates of the last 60 years for richest corporations and richest people in the world.

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9grand4dad(218 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I do pay my income taxes, federal and state. I'm not wealthy, just middle class. There are those among us who cannot pay, the poor and marginalized. So no I don't think they should pay. Do you think it's fair that GE uses tax strategies to pay NO TAXES. They certainly have the resources to do so. That is who I think should start paying their fair share.

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10grand4dad(218 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Amen, Rockabilly.

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11Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

You voted in these GOP / TEA thugs in SO LIVE WITH IT , What did think was going to happen .

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12mrblue(1175 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

If these payments stop, it will be political suicide for all of the CLOWNS in D.C.----------including the President.

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13whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

keep sending the trillions in foriegn aid big brother,

the more the man has you under its thumb the more control he has of you

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14Harley_Guy(146 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Blackmail, Scare Tactics and Demogoguery ... ON BOTH SIDES!!

Here are the facts, as reported by MarketWatch and the Bipartisan Policy Center. You do the math:

* The federal government receives approximately $200 billion in revenues each month.

* Interest on the national debt in August will be approximately $29 billion.

* Social Security will cost about $49. 2 billion.

* Medicare and Medicaid will cost about $50 billion.

* Active duty military pay will cost about $2.9 billion.

* Veterans affairs programs will cost about $2.9 billion.

If you've been punching buttons on your calculator, you know that still leaves $39 billion each month.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/b...

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15lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

My mom worked for 20+ years and was injured so she took retirement at 62 but here's what bothers me: she gets $550 a month but 3 other people who haven't worked get 600 or more a month for mental issues. More than my mom who worked decades. One has a new car, house and new everything in her house. She gets child support n food stamps and lives like a queen. The other one doesn't pay bills and buys expensive things and sells it cheap at the end of the month. Same cycle every month. Why do they get more than the retirees? Why are they allowed to make a career from social security? Why are they doing whatever and not held accountable for what they receive? Educate them to get off or have them work for their money. There are disabled people who get jobs but 3 healthy people at least I know of who CAN function in society get SSI that's government waste there, clean that up.

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16Rockabilly(93 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I guarantee there is someone that can make the same argument why they deserve more than your mother. You don't get it. It's not your mother or anyone else in a similar situation. The Republicans have people like you and your Mom fighting over $600 a month while they give tax breaks to people making $600 a minute.

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17uptowngirl(139 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Emotional blackmail for the most vulnerable in our country from a person who is leader of the free world. Last time the budget did not go his way he threatened not to pay military families. Our nation's senior citizens have contributed to Soc. Sec. and Medicare and had no choice in their participation, therefore the government has an contractual obligation to pay them monthly or refund their contributions.

All he has to do is use the 14th Ammendment --Come On. Barak will be with the other 9%+ in the unemployment figures. I would say he is between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps the Congress should give up their pay along with the pres., v.p., cabinet members and White House staff. Let's ground Air Force One and have the first lady and children have a staycation in the District instead of flying to Africa.

This is not leadership.

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18lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

@ Rock
It is the whole gov't that's screwed up and giving money away @ 600 x12x28= lots more then have more than 1/3 using SSI that way it adds up. They never worked to put money in but drain it. I was a democrat but they are for gay rights, broken families and people staying on welfare. Taxes are squeezed out of the middle class while rich pay less but the poor get free gas, heaters and water heaters and food stamps. They are wiping out middle class. They get nothing. All gov't spending is out of hand and will stay that way. I see social workers find ways to get people on assistance.

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19anothermike(226 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Of course anyone with the brains of a jaybird knows what the Republicans are doing. They are and have been hell bent on removing the sitting President. Boener and his cohorts keep saying we're spending too much in one breath and after a cigarette or two he claims there is plenty of money coming in. It that is the case, where is does the problem actually lie??? SS and Medicare (not medicaid for illegals) should have never been a piggy bank for congress for one thing. If you want to give major tax breaks for the affluent, have it contingent on creating NEW jobs in America for Americans and the employees will pay the taxes on their liveable income. Every congress person knows exactly where they ought to be making cuts. Forget the BS and get busy.....

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20lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

So many of you are right. We need to stop the madness of all gov't spending whether democrat or republican. It started with our jobs going overseas and borrowing from programs that they had no business touching. Over haul the whole country's budget and find programs to get multi-generational welfare and ssi out of the system-they do it with the good will. My stepson is handicapped- cant walk, talk or move his body in purposeful movements and he would be like many others who can't put in but his parents do and they would have chose him to be okay. He is the sweetest lil boy ever and people like him should receive benefits but walking, talking and able bodied need to do work if only picking up trash to earn their money. Our country is dysfunctional and it's time NOW to fix it and not threaten losses of income these retired people paid in good faith (and expected too). Taxes and lottery money and still can't fix this how about the others idea lose a few paychecks with congress, senators and etc... My opinion....

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21Rockabilly(93 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree with everything you said and your stepson should be receiving world class treatment and support as should your mom. But you are still missing the root of the problem. The government isn't short of revenue to run the country because of welfare cheats (which should be stopped) it is because of the trillions in corporate welfare and tax cuts for the worlds wealthiest. If you are really paying attention it is the Republicans who want to cut social security and medicare to maintain that corporate welfare and it is Obama and the Democrats that are trying to stop them. It comes down to priorities, the top 3% or the bottom 97%.

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22lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

The Democrats are GODS according to Rock and simply not true they are responsible for most things that have gone bad for our country, but that's ot even the point the republicans and Democrats refuse to open their greedy eyes and see everything they believe has run our country to a huge debt that spends more than we bring in but continue to further our outrageous debt. When you bring in more money because you went to school and found a way to use your brains to become wealthy is not my idea of forcing them to pay more simply because the government doesn't know how to budget but if they are receiving tax breaks due to being rich that should stop. It isn't only wealthy people who should have to work on the businesses that get tax breaks who make multiple millions. Obama has spent more money than any other president, sent soldiers to Afghanistan and who apologizes for our countries past. crazy how he's not called out on the things he has done. If he's so great why will he be a 1 term president?

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23iraz(1 comment)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

They are playing politics with our benefits! Many of our politicians in Congress are wealthy, they should delay receiving their checks. Cut back on military / defense spending; stop our wars; cut back on foreign aid. They are targeting the segment of the population that they think cannot fight back - the elderly and sick! It's not just retirement benefits but also disabled people who receive disability benefits that are affected. Shame on them!

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