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Apr 9, 2011

Government Shutdown Averted -- At What Cost For Social Security?

A we all know by now, a government shutdown was averted at the last minute. The cost was agreement to massive cuts in appropriations for government operations. Probably, we will not know until early next week what the cost will be for the Social Security Administration. Let us hope that cost will be minor.

I would suggest that eliminating lump sum death benefits would save money. The minuscule $255 payment is not worth administering. If that is not enough, eliminate parents benefits, the benefits that go to the dependant parents of decedents and Social Security recipients and make the change prospective. It is such an obscure benefit that eliminating it would cause little damage to the social safety net. Supplemental Security Income would always be available. Do people who qualify for parents benefits really deserve anything more than SSI?

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You could eliminate DAC benefits as well. Very few DAC benefits exceed the SSI level. Those that do likely don't need the money anyway.

    5:16 PM, April 09, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Stop thinking so small--end new entitlements to SSI. The SSI program is a complete shambles, totally broken with waste, fraud, abuse, and endemic incorrect payments. Let those on it continue until they become ineligible for whatever reason, but no new apps after, say, 10/01/11, the start of the new fiscal year, or maybe the next. SSA will never have enough staffing ever again to manage the program. It has always required overtime to process, and that is gone now, and there is unlikely to be any significant new hiring. Besides, why should we be paying 4, 5, even 6 people in a family almost $ 700.00 per month each for learning disabilities or ADHD?

    6:13 PM, April 09, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Agree with both previous posts. Good start.

    7:34 PM, April 09, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Or, simplify the SSI program so that both those receiving the benefit and those administering the benefit can understand the rules in the first place and it takes much less time to administer.
    Getting rid of SSI all together seems like an overkill reaction to handling the fact that some people with learning disabilities and ADHD may qualify for benefits.
    Plus, I wonder about the costs of having Title II reps AND a payment center for SSDI? I see so much waste there between the back and forth and inability to actually effectuate anything.

    8:01 PM, April 09, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The lump sum benefits should not be eliminated because it is a very clever was to have all deaths promptly reported to SSA and at little cost. The funeral directors and family _greed_ for this small sum keeps them from being further tempted to not report grandmother's death promptly, why the household would continue to receive more than $255 checks each month for several more month or years -- that would be difficult to collect as the eventual overpayments and too many for criminal prosecutions.
    The history of the lump sum payment goes back to the early days of Social Security, when the constitutionality was in question and the possibility that all the collected funds might have to be repaid for the unconstitutional act. THe original Act included a provision that IF the person/spouse/parent did not collect the FULL amount paid in, they would be able to recover the unused balance as = what became the lump sum payment. Over time it became a fixed amount for everyone at death and was not adjusted over time for increased size of average benefits and inflation.

    9:07 PM, April 09, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I wonder if these are real cuts, or the normal Washington type cuts, where you were going to raise it two billion, but raised it only one billion and call that a one billion cut.

    9:23 PM, April 09, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    9:51 PM, April 09, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree that perhaps the SSI should also be eliminated all together. People look to file SSI because they need medical insurance. Once they get the medical insurance, they no longer use it and use the SSI money to pay for everything but the medical care of who files for it. It is extremelly prone to fraud and abuse. Either that, or place a time cap on it. Allow only a certain period of say 2 years and stop it. People have chosen to remain on SSI and lazy out. Perhaps if they stopped SSI it would give incentives for people to go to work and earn the money instead of waiting at home for the tax payers benefit. The program should be overhauled --- so many recipients receiving SSI checks and living in PR and other countries where it is not allowed. Cutting SSI would allow so much money into the fund...

    4:10 AM, April 10, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very interesting comments. It seems at a glance,a few want to attack the poor somewhat helpless
    But allow the overpaid administrative law judges,managers,and attornies at social security to continue receiving their large salary, These few previous comments seem one sided.

    7:16 AM, April 10, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I posted the 7:16 AM, April 10, 2011 comment.

    Do people who qualify for parents benefits really deserve anything more than SSI?

    Yes because alot of these folks never had the chance to work and have a better life any arguement to the contrary borders on thoughtlessness.

    7:22 AM, April 10, 2011  
    Anonymous John Herling said...

    Give SSI back to the states, which administered it before 1974, and give them annual block grants to pay for it.

    10:16 AM, April 10, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Better yet, give SSI back to the states, stop taking the money from their residents in the first place and let the states pay for it and administer it themselves.

    It is really inefficient to incur the administrative expenses of taking the money, dealing with it, doling it back out to the states. The cost of the administrative friction must be huge.

    10:59 AM, April 10, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Eliminate SSI cash benefits for children and convert it to a health insurance process which actually addresses their problems and needs. Too many of the parents I see today use their disabled children as a cash cow, and the children see little to no benefit from the cash payments received. The parents seldom make any effort to work, instead living off the SSI payments of their children and whatever other welfare they can receive. They spend the SSI money on whatever they wish (their car payments, their phone bills, etc), with no incentive whatsoever to help the child get treatment to improve as it might cause them to loose their free income. They also spend enormous amounts of time and effort trying to get every child they can possibly breed on SSI. I know it sounds mean, but it is the truth - we have several families in our area with 10 children getting SSI and up to 4 generations receiving the benefits. Eliminating the cash benefits would also have the benefit of significantly lower the number of new SSI claims being filed (hopefully limiting it to children who actually need the insurance).

    Another Title II entitlement that could be eliminated is stepchild entitlement. The 1996 amendment of Section 202(d) of the Act made these claims incredibly time consuming to take if done properly. Also, the methodology used to decide half-support is a convoluted mess that has no basis whatsoever in either logic or the real world - only a politician could have dreamed up that idiotic mess. It is a mystery to me why they didn't just eliminate the entitlement altogether instead of changing the rules into the farce they are today.

    re: Elimination of the PSCs. It will never happen. SSA's claims processing systems are so complex that it would be nigh impossible for a person to do interviews and learn to process claims. The agency has pretty much hit the wall on what can be automated -- the 30% of the workload stuff that can't be automated (and its associated post entitlement workloads) takes probably 40-50% of the resources of the agency on the Title II side.

    They'd be better off eliminating all the special loopholes and acquiescence garbage that make processing the claims impossible to totally automate (i.e. combined family maxes, parisi adjustments, Medicare/medicaid adjustments to DACs/Widows that nobody else gets, etc).

    Of course, none of this is going to happen. We'll just keep slogging along through the muck as it gets deeper and deeper until everything eventually collapses. The majority of the workers in the TSCs and PSCs/OCO don't give a damn any more whether the work is processed correctly, so long as they do enough to get it off their desk and onto somebody else. Many FO employees (most especially among the folks who actually care and try their best to do the work right but get stomped down at every turn by the dreck who don't care) will succumb to this attitude over the next 5 years as well. Mark my words, you ain't seen nothin' yet.....

    8:26 PM, April 10, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I say end SSI/cash payment to these ADHD cases..they likely already have medicaid, money isn't going to add any benefit that's going to help those kids. HUGE waste.

    11:05 PM, April 10, 2011  
    Anonymous iPod docking station with speakers said...

    I agree, government bureaucracy is so wasteful. In regards to social security, it reminds of so called charities, something like less than 10% of the money you donate to a charity actually reaches the help in need.

    3:54 AM, April 11, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Except, AudioCanyon, for Social Security, it's precisely the opposite. 2% goes to administrative costs, 98% goes to beneficiaries.

    8:41 AM, April 11, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Less drastic than ending children's SSI would be to raise the income limits for the parents. Parents can have fairly large incomes and still have their kids qualify for SSI, due to the way the deeming rules are written and applied.

    I never thought I'd say this, but I'd be ok with ending the children's SSI program altogether, as long as the SChip program remains intact and provides liberal eligibility for children. Even a staunch advocate for the poor as I am can see that parents who obtain SSI for a kid rarely use the money just for the benefit of that kid. It becomes a general increase in household income. While I see a need for a parent to improve the general household standard of living when he or she has a disabled child to care for, it's against the rules of the SSI program to use the money that way. There's no way to police that activity.

    Better that funding goes to special ed programs or other type of enrichment programs (I know, that's wishful thinking on my part)

    9:25 AM, April 11, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Do away with "combined family maximums" when children are dually entitled. This results in huge benefit amounts for the dually entitled children and a lot of processing time especially when there is workers' compensation involved.

    8:54 PM, April 11, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Where does any of the money come from if the U.S. can't sell bonds?


    9:31 PM, April 11, 2011  

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