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I’ve been reading a lot about “entitlements” and how isn’t it terrible some people depend on the government for their livelihood and don’t pay income tax. I do think it’s a good idea to require drug testing to receive public assistance, since most jobs require drug screening. But when politicians, newscasters, and the general public lump Social Security recipients in with welfare recipients, I get a little angry.

I didn’t ask for a Social Security program–I HAD to get a Social Security card when I got my first job (at 16). I didn’t have any choice about paying for Social Security “insurance”–it was taken out of every paycheck I ever received in the 34 years I worked. Even more was taken out of my late husband’s paychecks.

And when my husband unexpectedly died (leaving me with six kids aged 2 to 17), we couldn’t have survived on my tiny paycheck without survivor’s benefits. When the kids grew older, I went back to school (while continuing to work) and finally got a good paying job. Yes, part of my tuition was paid by government grants. Good paying job=more income tax.

Just when I finally had money in the bank and platinum cards in my wallet, I became disabled. Once again, the Social Security was a godsend.

My monthly disability check is less than one paycheck from my last job. The medical bills and 75% drop in income trashed my credit rating and wiped out my savings. They say that SSD and retirement benefits were never designed to be a person’s entire income, but to supplement savings or work at lessened capabilities due to age or medical condition.

What savings? Most Americans don’t have enough savings to last through the disability application process, let alone supplement their support for the rest of their lives. And in today’s economic climate, it’s virtually impossible for an older disabled person to find suitable work.

And so we live –austerely–on our meager checks. We find cheap housing and defer maintenance as long as we can. We clip coupons and shop grocery sales. We pay sales tax on everything we buy, gasoline tax on every gallon that goes into our beat up (but paid for) old car, and property tax if we’re smart enough or lucky enough to own our homes. For some reason, it seems that the disability check is always just a few dollars higher than the limit to qualify for other programs so we can’t get food stamps or Medicaid.

The average Congressman draws a salary that is ten times what the average beneficiary has to live on. Yes, there are more of us. But we didn’t design the system–the government did. Social Security is a promise to provide a (minimum) assurance of future benefits in return for weekly contributions. A promise that most Social Security recipients paid for over many years of hard work. If the system isn’t working, it’s not our fault for believing the promise and expecting it to be honored by the other side. It’s not our responsibility to re-invent the system so it works. But, as usual, it will probably be us that pays the price. Even if we don’t pay income tax.

 

This article may be reprinted as long as resource box below is included. Reprint notification appreciated at judy33873 at gmail dot com.
I supplement my Social Security by selling handcrafted gifts and freelance writing online. After expenses, I still don’t make enough to pay income tax. Grab some free content or  contact me for writing assignments through my blog at <a target=”_new” href=”http://publisherpotpoourri.wordpress.com”>http://oakhillcreations.wordpress.com</a&gt;

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