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The 'Misfortunes' of a Bad Economy, Or Why Social Security Benefits Matter

Merton Bernstein, a professor of law at Washington University, does not mince words when he writes on the Huffington Post that "[t]his is no time to reduce Social Security benefits. Nor will it be tomorrow."

Like many Americans you may have been asking yourself, "Am I eligible for disability benefits?" Provided that you are genuinely disabled under the qualifications set forth by the Social Security Administration, the answer is a resounding Yes. And for good reason. As Bernstein argues, there are certain "misfortunes" that occur in every economic recession - from dwindling pension and retirement accounts to home foreclosures - and Social Security is a program that the average American can depend on if he or she becomes disabled.

Bernstein goes on to tally - and refute - the arguments put forth by opponents of the Social Security program. These arguments are listed below:

  • Social Security adds to the federal deficit and federal debt. This is not true. Bernstein writes that the program's three income sources (the FICA employers' payment, personal income tax, and interest bearing on the Social Security Trust Fund) entirely pay for Social Security benefits. The program hasn't added anything to the federal deficit or debt.
  • Social Security is unsustainable. This is also not true. Opponents say that the program pays out more than it takes in, and that there are more retirees looking to collect benefits than those who are working and contributing to the program. Bernstein writes that Social Security has already paid for its future benefits payments - unlike the borrowing that has ensued from the Bush-era tax cuts and wars - so any borrowing that does occur should come out of the pockets of those who benefited from those tax cuts and wars, like private military contractors.

Bernstein ends his piece by writing: "Those concerned with private enterprise and employment - in other words, all of us - should support an undiminished Social Security." As Social Security Disability lawyers who represent disabled people every day, and see the tangible, positive impact disability benefits have on those who are unable to work, we would have to agree.

Source: As Other Income Sources Shrivel, Social Security Is Even More Indispensable

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