Monday, August 19, 2013

Social Security...Not exactly social, nor secure

According to the Social Security Administration's website, if you are receiving SSI in 2013, as an individual, you'll receive $8529.32 in total payments for the year. That's just over $710 per month. If that is your only source of income, you are literally living by government-funded poverty. The Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Census Bureau have defined poverty based upon where you live. The poverty guideline lies between $11390 and $14350 for an individual, and then you add approximately $4000-5000 for each additional household member.

The government will contend that SSI stands for "SUPPLEMENTAL Security Income", which would indicate that there is other income to be had, except that you have to prove that you are unemployable just to qualify for SSI. If your state has Welfare Cash Assistance, it's likely that you have to apply for SSI as a condition of receiving it, and SSI will replace said assistance. So how are SSI recipients supposed to bridge the gap to the poverty line? And how horrible does it sound that somebody has to make more money just to break the poverty line? If you are on one of the SSA's programs because you are disabled, they say there's some amount of money you can make and still qualify (I believe it's around $14,000 per year), but your benefits get reduced based on your earned income.

At the base income of $8529.32 per year, you may not be able to pay for your own living expenses, and you may still have to depend on other welfare programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Energy Assistance. Even if you receive all this assistance, the money from your SSI may not pay your mortgage or rent. So after all that, I have to ask, what makes you secure, and are you social? I'm sure the government intends "social" to mean "part of society" rather than "having fun", but I'm not sure either of those is possible anyway. If you can barely afford to leave your house for essential things, how well do you fit into "society"?

So why is it called Social Security if you're not fully involved in society, and you're not secure? It sounds to me like somebody had to come up with a better name than "Better Than Nothing Payments" or "Public Moocher Payments". Not everybody on government assistance is trying to defraud the system, some people need anything they can get, but the criminals are the reason it is difficult for people in legitimate need to get help. Social Security needs to find the meaning of its own name.