Category Archives: Social Security

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

Proposed deficit reduction plan?

Actions speak louder than words, right? The question is, who is willing to stand behind their words now and which actions will be taken?

The nation has clearly had a problem with its rising deficit and President Obama and leaders of his deficit commission understand Americans want solutions much more than words and political maneuvering or campaign slogans.

Bipartisan leaders of the commission released a proposal Wednesday with suggested cuts and reductions estimating it could cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

Although the full commission has yet to weigh in, there is already mounting feedback around the nation and of course, in Washington, but isn’t cutting the deficit what so many have been asking for?

Why is this causing so much of a debate? These cuts are not only looking to stop wasteful spending, fraud or end programs that are no longer effective or may be out of date. These programs are looking to make some big changes in programs that many Americans and politicians have tried to avoid making changes to.

The retirement age for social security would increase by one month every two years after it reaches 67 under the current law, meaning the normal retirement age would reach 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075. There is a hardship exemption in place for those who are unable to work after the age of 62.

The proposal calls to gradually raise the gas tax by 15 cents beginning in 2013 and have these funds go toward the transportation trust fund.

There are 3 options of Tax Reform proposals; The Zero Plan, the Wyden-Gregg Style Reform and the Tax Reform Trigger. All three are after the same goals, some of which are to lower rates, simplify the code, make America the best place in the world to start and grow a business and reduce the deficit.

Other examples of cuts in the proposal include a freeze of federal salaries, bonuses and other compensations at the Department of Defense for three years. Reduction of overseas bases by one-third, slow the growth of foreign aid, cut federal work force by 10 percent and the list continues.

The commission knew their proposal would be controversial but said putting it on the table would prompt a more realistic national debate.

So, that is where it stands right now. People are speaking out. Members of the House and Senate need to speak out and have dialogue and be able to work together to accomplish a plan to bring down the deficit and although this proposal may be abrupt and harsh, the deficit is climbing and the nation is falling deeper and deeper into debt.

Instead of a country being divided, the country and its leaders should be discussing ideas and working together because although our nation has separate political parties and is a very diverse nation, we must come together and if it hasn’t been made clear enough already that being divided isn’t working, then maybe an even larger debt and a more divided group in Washington will be the road of clarity this nation so desires. But, it seems so many in this nation have already reached the point of willingness to discuss, dialogue and work together to find solutions and work with each other to move forward.

Hopefully that is the feeling in Washington as well.

Americans want Social Security answers

As Social Security just celebrated its 75th birthday this past week, politicians have not denied themselves any golden opportunity to use this as a ticket to get more votes even if it means telling half-truths or flat out lying.

To current Social Security recipients, this is a very serious matter and to people paying into Social Security this is becoming an all too familiar issue, parties saying different facts and figures but rarely back them up with solid proof or anybody answering the questions being asked.

In President Obama’s Saturday Radio Address he stated, “Seventy-five years ago today, in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, laying a cornerstone in the foundation of America’s middleclass, and assuring generations of America’s seniors that after a lifetime of hard work, they’d have a chance to retire with dignity.”

He went on to say, “One thing we can’t afford to do is privatize Social Security – an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market.”

As usual, the different parties and their constituents have different opinions on whether Social Security should be privatized or paid into the Social Security Trust Fund maintained by the U.S. Treasury.

Many Americans believe that Social Security is broke or going broke. According the Congressional Budget Office Projections, Social Security can continue to pay 100 percent of promised benefits for more than 25 years, until 2037, with no changes and three-quarters benefits for 75 years, until 2085. With modest changes, Social Security can pay our children and our grandchildren.

A question that has come up is another program Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which is a government program that provides to low income persons who are either aged (65 or older), blind or disabled. This program can also be provided to children. Although administered by the Social Security Administration, SSI is funded by the U.S. Treasury general funds, not the Social Security Trust Fund. SSI was created in 1974 to replace federal-state adult assistance programs that served the same purpose. Today the program provides benefits to 7.6 million Americans.

With so many questions and rumors going around regarding Social Security and other programs that sound as though they fall under the same Social Security Trust Fund, it is not surprising that politicians try to use this as a campaign token to draw voters in by either just confusing their constituents or making their campaign ads in a way that either lie or bend the truth. Often, when asked straight forward questions, they find a way to avoid answering the question directly because when a vote comes up, they don’t want to be caught voting in a way they said they wouldn’t.

One question is will the retirement age be raised to receive full benefits (100%) of a person’s Social Security? A very good tool to use at the moment is on the Social Security website. There is talk of this changing and at the moment, that is just what it is. But, the age limit has recently changed. Using the tool is as simple as putting in the year of a person’s birth.

The breakdown is this.

Prior to 1942 – 100% at age 65

1943-1954 – 100% at age 66

1955 – 100% at age 66 yrs + 2 mos.

1956 – 100 % at age 66 yrs + 4 mos.

1957 – 100 % at age 66 yrs. + 6 mos.

1958 – 100 % at age 66 yrs. + 8 mos.

1959 – 100% at age 66 yrs. 10 mos.

1960 and later – at age 67

Over the years, there’s always problems with fraud and people taking advantage of “the system”. This uses a lot of tax money unnecessarily and takes away from those who do need the funds to live and have earned the money. One of the best ways to prevent fraud is to report fraud and of course to never be a part of the problem but always a part of the solution. To report Social Security Fraud, call 1-800-269-0271 or use this online form.

Social Security is not only paid to those who qualify by age as some may think. Children can be entitled to receive Social Security Child’s Benefits if a deceased parent was fully insured by Social Security and meet the necessary criteria. A spouse may also qualify as long as they also meet certain criteria as well.

Social Security is a very important part of everyone’s life, both now and in the future. It shouldn’t matter if a person is a Democrat or a Republican or too young to even vote at this moment.

This is something that has worked for 75 years and was put together with very admirable reasons and very well thought out. This should still be looked at as a goal for all Americans and by all Americans.

Many statements are being made by candidates running for re-election or office. These cause rumors or confusion but nonetheless, they spread. Most often if a person goes to the candidate’s website, that statement is not there because it wasn’t substantial enough to post next to their name due to it being unfounded, weak or compromising. Social Security is too important for games, lies, deceptions or costly mistakes.

In his weekly address, President Obama said, “We’ve been talking for a long time” about how to fix Social Security’s issues, “and I am committed to working with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who wants to strengthen Social Security.”

Mr. President, so are many Americans.