Has Social Security become a new welfare program for the able-bodied?

Pastor’s Corner

I sometimes wonder if our young people are doctor shopping for someone who will play the game that some of them are playing, which is “Let’s pretend to be really sick, stay home, watch The Young and the Restless.”

When we (the elderly) who have worked the majority of our lives for the benefits that are received, there is a fear of what the seniors will do if Congress and the Senate do not investigate these abuses and really deprive the folk who will truly suffer if their benefits are cut.

Some of us see these young folk standing in the same line with us at the SSA offices and then see that same group of youth on their front porches after having put a huge smile on the corner liquor store owner’s face and planning to make the casino owners happy while their little children are standing around watching. When we know that these little children’s parents will be begging someone for money for rent and a meal in about a week, we ask the question, “Has Social Security become the new welfare system?”

What is the 75-year factual organizational history of Social Security, and what is its intended purpose?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) began life as the Social Security Board (SSB). The SSB was created at the moment President Franklin Roosevelt inked his signature on the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935 at 3:30 pm. That signing date is significant in my life because I was born about one year later (July 10, 1936 and married on the same day 20 years later, August 14, 1955).

Today, January 2011, after many years of hard work (my father used to say hard work never killed anybody) I am reaping the benefits of that signature.

The SSB was an entirely new entity, with no staff, no facilities and no budget. The initial personnel were donated from existing agencies, and a temporary budget was obtained from Harry Hopkins and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, offered one of her assistant secretaries, Arthur Altmeyer, as an initial board member, and she even gave her high-backed red leather executive chair to Altmeyer since the SSB had no furniture. The board itself consisted of three presidential appointed executives and such staff as they needed to hire.

On 7/16/46 the SSB was renamed the Social Security Administration under the president’s Reorganization Plan of 1946. Arthur Altmeyer, who had been chairman of the board of the SSB, became the SSA’s first commissioner.

In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The original Social Security Act (1935) and the current version of the Act as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs. The larger and better known programs are: Federal Old-Age (Retirement), Survivors, and Disability Insurance, Unemployment Benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Health Insurance for Medical Assistance Programs (Medicaid), State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund.

Amendments of the 1970s

In June 1972 both houses of the United States Congress approved by overwhelming majorities a 20 percent increase in benefits for 27.8 million Americans. The average payment per month rose from $133 to $166. The bill also set up a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to take effect in 1975. This adjustment would be made on a yearly basis if the Consumer Price Index increased by three percent or more.

The elderly have not had an increase in Social Security benefits since 2008, and now you know why — because all of the able-bodied young folk in their late twenties, thirties and early forties are looking for a quick fix, and these quack doctors are helping them defraud the government out of billions of dollars. I wonder how much money these doctors are receiving from Medical Assistance.

Someone should write their president, their congress member and their senators, their state representatives and our new governor and tell them to give the elderly folk back their cost-of-living increases and make these young folk get a job. I wonder who that will be?

Rev. Mary Flowers Spratt welcomes reader responses to maryawmin@yahoo.com, or call 827-9264, or write to 411 East 38th, Suite 102, Minneapolis, 55409.