Nov 14, 2016

I Don't Know

     People keep asking me what's going to happen at Social Security with Donald Trump as President. For the most part, I don't know. I'm pretty sure that the people on Trump's Social Security transition team have little idea. It would be too early in any transition and there are ample signs that this will be a more disorganized transition than usual.Much may depend upon Trump's pick for Social Security Commissioner but that may not come for six months or more and it may not matter that much anyway. In most administrations, the Social Security Commissioner seems mostly to be told to not make waves.
     The one thing that people worry about the most -- that Trump would try to privatize Social Security -- is out of the question. He's signaled that he opposes that. Few Congressional Republicans would have the heart for such a fight. Even Donald Trump can recognize that this is a fight he would lose badly. I wish he would try but he won't.
     While there are many, many frightening things that could happen at Social Security in a year or two or four, the only immediate threat is to the agency's operating budget. We're on a continuing resolution now which runs out in December, if I remember correctly. I expect that will get rolled over until the Spring. Over the past six years the House GOP has been demanding greater and greater cuts for all agencies, including Social Security, and damn the consequences. However, it's been noticeable in the past that the Congressional GOP has always seemed far more interested in budget austerity when there was a Democratic President than when there was a Republican President, not that Social Security fared well under President George W. Bush. We are at the point that the news media can already report on horrendous backlogs at Social Security, if they choose to. Do Republicans want to risk bad media coverage on this? Do they even recognize or care about that risk when they've just been able to elect a President who's been accused of, among other things, sexually abusing more than a dozen women?


Anonymous said...

Wait, what? We just elected Bill Clinton? A man who raped dozens of women? huh??

Anonymous said...

Who knows man its all negotiable with this guy, it's all transactional, no principles. The great big beautiful wall is now a fence. He doesn't know anything about Social Security. All he knows it a lot of people rely on it, a lot of people like it and it's going broke and someone might tell him its a Ponzi scheme. He might be hearing its a Ponzi scheme, people are telling him. Overall, this guy campaigned on huge changes. In four years, the public has to perceive things have changed bigly, or big league, I guess. Perhaps, relatively mild changes in four years and he argues he needs another four to finish it off.

Anonymous said...

Its the same as it has always been. Boomers will continue to take advantage of the system, kicking the can to Gen X and beyond. My early RIB will move from 62 to 65 with Medicare entitlement moved to at least 67 and my FRA will move to 70. In effect, I will have to work cradle to grave, nothing changes, just the date.

Anonymous said...

Boomers have built up an almost $3 trillion trust fund, and most of them haven't even started collecting yet. Social Security finances can be "fixed" easily by raising payroll taxes, which used to be raised regularly but haven't been since 1990. The GOP might instead cut benefits, but that's the fault of them and people who vote for them, not "Boomers."

Anonymous said...

Sure it's the Boomers' fault--who was voting for those clowns? Me and even my Gen X'er pals weren't born until the late 70s or later, meaning we didn't vote until the mid-late 90s at the earliest, after all this stuff was long since set in motion.

Y'all had trustee reports indicating things would get dire once you all starting hitting retirement age, it's just that lowering taxes in the 80s and 90s and going to war with anything that moved and/or had oil was more important to you than doing anything about it.

Just how like it is most definitely yours, mine, and every other adult's fault that we haven't and aren't doing anything serious about climate change. Our children and grandchildren most definitely can lay this at our feet--we continue to fail them.

Own your highest earning year (1980s-2000s) failures, Boomers.

Anonymous said...


Oh, please give me a break! You Millenials and Gen X'rs have been so shielded and protected from the real world by your Boomer parents you are a pain in the a$$ in the workplace. You're overly sensitive, lack tough skin and maturity, are narcissistic and think you and your superiors are better than everyone else, exercise questionable judgment, are prone to cry or have hissy fits when you do not get your way, lack people skills and the ability to socially interact in person with others beyond the isolated digital universe your entire life revolves, and I could go on and on.

Social Security is one of the BEST programs ever created in this country. Yet, you millenials and your Gen X'r pals would not know a good thing like SSA if it hit you upside the head. You have been so sheltered from the real world, and your every whim catered to by your parents and grandparents, you have absolutely no appreciation for how great the Social Security Program is to the vast majority of Americans.

FYI, I sure hope you are not an ODAR decision writer, because your writing skills suck.

Anonymous said...

One thing that might (or might not) be interesting is whether the Separation of Powers Restoration Act gets any renewed traction. It's a not-entirely-on-point attempt to roll back Chevron deference. I haven't given much thought as to how it would impact SSA, and the author of this little blurb -- -- thinks it's a big nothing-burger, but it's something to think about. I had no idea until this summer that anyone in Congress had strong feelings about Chevron deference.

Athena said...

Hmmm, 9:17, I'm going to have to call pot/kettle on the writing skills.

I have to hand it to you, though; the general boomer narrative about Xers is that we're apathetic and unmotivated, not addicted to technology. Points for creativity!

Anonymous said...

There are some ways to cut SSA a bit without too much pain for the public. How about doing away with DRCs for folks who file for widows/widower benefits at 60 and draw those for 10 years before switching to their age 70 retirement benefits that are now 32% higher because they did not draw RIB before? Isn't paying them their full retirement at FRA enough?

This won't save the trust fund any money but why do we pay disabled children SSI benefits? There is no loss of income for them to replace. IHSS pays money to parents who have to stay home and take care of the very disabled with low income. If the money that went to SSI for kids was redirected to programs that addressed their disability needs, I'd bet there would be less kids in the program and no reason to try to continue to be on it for ages for ADHD, etc when there is no monetary benefit to the family.

Anonymous said...

I expect the first action to be an across the board cut in civilian agency expenditures, likely around 10%. This will reduce staff, probably through attrition and with an ongoing hiring freeze, make the delays in processing cases of all kinds increase. Hearing backlogs will increase even more.

On entitlements, expect an increase in the retirement age (effectively a 20% cut in benefits) that could be done by altering the benefit formula so as to only impact higher earners, but won't be.

The current push by the anti-due press eurocrats at SS to make appeals harder to win by changing or deleting the Treating Physician rules and articulation rules will continue. Due process hearings will be restricted. Video hearings will become mandatory. These changes will come mot because of Trump, necessarily, but because this is what that crowd at SS has wanted to do all along and now there is nothing to stop them.

And Health Care for the poor will be restricted. Medicaid will be cut back. Medicare will likely become a voucher system, especially for those not already on it. Not necessarily bad in itself if the voucher is sufficient for decent health care, but somehow I doubt that will be the case.

These have all been the Republican ideas all along. But now they will have to own the consequences. If they are right about the good effects of their economic ideas, then they will remain in power. If they are wrong, and their policies are as bad as I believe they are, then this too shall pass.

Anonymous said...

Well put, 5:10. I think that's a pretty accurate description of what we can likely expect in the upcoming months/years. While now of these projections are completely damaging to claimants or their representatives, it will continue to make things more difficult and cause more undue suffering, especially to those at the margins. Having represented disability claimants for over two decades, I've developed a little bit of perspective. The winds tend to shift left and right while everyone involved learns to manage. The problem for the repubs now is that they will completely own whatever happens next. The pushback may be severe if things go too far. We will likely start seeing this as backlogs continue to grow.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Many hints of what may be coming our way are likely found in the GOP Better Way platform put together by Ryan. I don't recall seeing specifics on SS but there were on Medicare vouchers and possibly tweaking the age you qualify at.Basically a private market place for Medicare Advantage Plans with vouchers. If I recall correctly this would affect those under the age of 55 and those already on Medicare or 55 or older can stick with what they have or join the new plans. Ryan goes out of his way to blame the ACA for depleting Medicare while the CBO actually states the opposite and says ACA extended Medicares solvency by 11 years. Scary time ahead. The Trump platform mentions modernizing Medicare whatever that may mean.

Anonymous said...


Your writing does not reconcile with the author of the 5:58 comment to which I referenced. That comment is so poorly written it is barely readable.
I fully stand behind my writing.

As for Boomers verses Millenials and Gen X's, no, it is not the pot calling the kettle black. To the contrary, you have been so shielded and your every whim catered to for so long, you have no understanding or appreciation for the great program Social Security is for many Americans. Perhaps you will come to your senses when your parents Social Security is reduced, and they turn to you for financial assistance.

Anonymous said...

Boomers, look out. The Gen X and beyond are becoming the power. As the aging cheap and greedy Boom retires, the rest are coming into the power in an economic way. As you start buying Depends and Ensure, they will be buying the houses and taking the vacations. Remember, they are the ones that will be running Shady Pines, hope you enjoy your tapioca.

On the voucher topic, look at how well that has worked out for the VA when they tried to get services anywhere. Yeah that works well.

Anonymous said...

The Boomers were no surprise. They were told they were the largest generation. Instead of facing this, enacting a .25-.50% tax increase to cover the future of SSA RIB benefits, a blind eye was turned to the problem. Study after study, report after report, the same response.

Given the strongest and best economy in the last 100 years, they built empires of greed. Boomers took the best and strongest asset the country has ever seen, the Middle Class, and destroyed it, sucked it dry, and left it gasping and defeated corpse. They benefited from cheap college, making it impossible for those that follow to get a decent job without an education, but made the education a business, and out of reach of many.

The perfect example of this was the 2008 collapse of the toxic housing debt market. In government, baby boomers ballooned the defense budget beyond the point of reason. They then raided government programs to pay for their mistakes. Regarding the environment, baby boomers left the United States reliant on coal (cough, cough) while eroding the advanced nuclear energy infrastructure built by their parents. We can thank baby boomer leadership for a nation that has no sound policy on foreign affairs, the environment, energy, social welfare, human rights, terrorism, technology development, education, debt, etc. The point being, baby boomer leadership has provided America with a government that is the most partisan and self-serving the union has ever seen, and remains entirely reactive to the world around it.

And boomers seem to know that the future won't be brighter for Max and his friends. Nationwide, optimism that today's youth will fare better than their parents is down from a peak of 71 percent a decade ago to 44 percent today, the lowest level since 1983, according to Gallup. Pessimism is highest among--you guessed it--baby boomers.

Anonymous said...


Arrogant Brats with a misguided sense of entitlement, and complete lack of social responsibility, or understanding anything beyond their own narcissistic perception of themselves and their close knit digital lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how this devolved into a boomer vs Gen Ex argument. I'd say we have other more important issues to focus on now!

Anonymous said...

This blaming of generations makes no sense to me. There are good people and bad people of all ages, and people are responsible for what they do, not what people of the same age do. Even if you want to judge people collectively by age, the boomers are certainly no worse than the generation before.

Anonymous said...

@9:56 No Nilla Waffers for you. Now get off my grass!

Anonymous said...

"As for Boomers verses Millenials and Gen X's, no, it is not the pot calling the kettle black. To the contrary, you have been so shielded and your every whim catered to for so long, you have no understanding or appreciation for the great program Social Security is for many Americans. Perhaps you will come to your senses when your parents Social Security is reduced, and they turn to you for financial assistance."

Funny you talk about my writing skills when you have the reading comprehension skills of a brick.

I fully appreciate the import of SSA, you dolt; I was LAMENTING the fact that SSA benefits are in such disarray because Boomers didn't shore up the program when they had the chance. I LOVE SSA and its programs, I WANT MORE OF IT. I am upset because you and your age cohort let it get in the crap situation it is in currently during your prime earning/voting years.

Anonymous said...

@12:00 and comments from same individual above:

Maturity certainly isn't your strong point. You have a lot of growing up to do.

The truth is I agree with 10:48, who stated, "This blaming of generations makes no sense to me. There are good people and bad people of all ages, and people are responsible for what they do, not what people of the same age do. Even if you want to judge people collectively by age, the boomers are certainly no worse than the generation before."

I was so taken aback and outraged by your earlier posts, I felt compelled to respond with similar hyperbole, generalizations, and stereotypes hoping you could appreciate how ridiculous you sound. I have never purposely blamed generations. As 10:48 said, "There are good people and bad people of all ages, and people are responsible for what they do, not what people of the same age do."

Your remarks are just so utterly and unnecessarily divisive, they trigger similar responses from those you target. Maturity awaits you.

Anonymous said...

somebody missed nap time.

Curmudgeon said...

That's a bit rude.

Anonymous said...


Maturity still awaits you. It appears the wait is going to be very long.

Anonymous said...

Maturity knows that not all the posts come from the same person when on an open forum.

Anonymous said...

These posts are getting off topic. We do have serious matters ahead. I appreciate the postings about the persons being appointed to the SSA transition team. This gives us information as to what we can look forward to or dread. For some reason, politicians are so worried about fraud and abuse in the disability system that SSA's limited resources are directed to rooting that out to an unreasonable degree. I have done disability cases since 1970, and I have met less than 3 who actually received disability and weren't disabled. It's amazing that many believe that cutting people off ssi is a wonderful solution to deficits.
I look forward to receiving what is usually valuable information on this forum.