Monday, January 31, 2005

Op-Ed on Social Security Privatization and, Inter Alia, People with Disabilities

See this op-ed from the Philadelphia Daily News. Key content:

WILL THOSE taking a big hit from the administration's undoing of Social Security be the disabled, widows and orphans? Yes, most very likely.

Will you be seeing this in the administration's ads linking President Bush to President Roosevelt?

No, and not surprisingly.

The pitch to end Social Security as we know it - a program with a 90 percent public approval rating - views this as a debate about 33 million retired workers and their families.

But forgotten are close to another 15 million beneficiaries of the Social Security survivors and disability insurance program - disabled workers, widows and their children - whose security will be lost in the proposed overhaul. With 4 million child beneficiaries, Social Security is the largest children's benefits program in nation, even bigger than welfare.

* * *

And proposals to undo Social Security with private accounts have not considered the impact on disability and survivors-insurance beneficiaries and children. To pay for diverting dollars to private accounts, benefit cuts are inevitable for this group, pushing the disabled, widows and orphans below the poverty line.

Disabled workers or survivors where the worker has become disabled or dies before the retirement age, even assuming they all have the investment skills of a Warren Buffet, will not be able to accumulate enough investment gains over their shortened work lives to make up for the reductions in disability and survivors benefits.

Since the privatization plan will be politically marketed to younger workers, what younger people should note is that a 20-year-old today has a three in 10 chance of becoming disabled and a one in 6 chance of dying before reaching retirement age.


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