On Social Security

People here in the US on government assistance, SSI, etc. have to be very very careful about making extra money on the side. I knew people who set up at a flea market, probably didn’t make more than a couple hundred a month, who found themselves under investigation for fraud, and had their benefits frozen.

I am not 100% certain, but I would guess any huge lump sum like that would shut benefits down here in the US too.


I have seen it with student loans. A girl I knew was raising 2 kids on her own and got a loan to go to nursing school. The proceeds of the loan got counted as income and she lost her medicaid benefits and SNAP for her kids and had to quit school and return the loan to re-qualify. Craziness guaranteed to keep the “undeserving” down. And this was decades prior to Trump.


While at the same time I knew a 70 year old, with handsome retirement from a previous company, pulling down full social security payments WHILE working full time for another company for a handsome salary.


But social security is a different fish entirely. Everybody pays in, everybody draws out. It’s UBI for the old paid for by the young. Those against it literally want the old to starve.


I wouldn’t call it UBI, because the goal with that is to provide enough to cover the basics. Most seniors who aren’t wealthy need a side gig because Social Security isn’t enough to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.


It needs to not be a different fish. People get payed more than they paid in, so it isn’t a savings account.

We should not be paying out social security to millionaires, while cutting off people’s food stamps because they got a student loan, or their SSD because they sold things at a flea market.


Those two things are not the same.

SS is it’s own thing: you pay in you take out.

Those other things are injustices, but the money is not the same. Stop listening to the GOP propaganda that they are. They want to pay both to themselves alone by destroying each.


As I said, it isn’t a savings account. People get paid more from social security than they paid in. If the people need it, that’s fine. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be getting more than they paid in.

It should be need-based, so that people who DO need it don’t have to fear it will become insolvent in the future because we are paying out to people with millions in their personal retirement accounts.

(Bowing out of an OT mess)

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That statement has many “ifs”. After having paid into the system for 50 years, I seriously doubt I will live long enough to collect more than I put in. I retired at my “legal” age, so I am allowed to continue working and drawing a paycheck without any penalty to my SS income. Also, I have to continue paying taxes on any income (including SS). While I agree we need to tax the hell out of millionaires, I don’t know how you would set up a social security system that wasn’t fair to all, rich and poor.


I really want to let things get back on topic, but, if you’re asking me, I think Social Security should be amended to be guaranteed basic income for those people of retirement age. Those who need it, get it, those who don’t, don’t. We pay in because we MAY need it, and because we don’t want the elderly in our society to live in poverty. By limiting it to those who need it, we will be more able to make it an amount people can live on.

That would be my answer.

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But because I make less than the base wage cap (I think it’s around $150K) I pay the full tax on 100% of my income, while the wealthy pay the full tax on (often) much less than 50% of their income.
I’m not anti-SS at all, but it does strike me as unfair and often inhumane the way it’s shared out.
Edited to fix typo.


That sound like a system that was designed to increase wealth disparity.


Because it is. I don’t understand why folks like me qualify for SS at all. I mean, it will be nice (assuming that it is there when I retire) to have extra beer money coming in, but I can and am planning my retirement without consideration for SS at all. Most Americans cannot do that.

Gotta point out that this is a derail from the topic of this thread. A very important and worthwhile conversation to have, but maybe not here.


Yeah, just came back to apologize. I saw reading through that further down thread @aLynHall and others tried to get things back on track. Our retirement system isn’t really a coronavirus-related happening. But I can’t help myself responding to just one more thing.

It’s to maintain broad societal support for the program. I think everyone should qualify, but we should remove the salary caps on what gets taxed. It would be so easy and fill up the coffers for everyone.


Uh, not necessarily. If you pay into a government retirement account, your Social Security payments will be offset even if you paid into Social Security for a significant number of years.

I couldn’t get a fulltime teaching position but I still had to contribute to my retirement fund as a long term substitute teacher. This was only for eight of my 39 work years. Although I’m back in the private sector, I’ll be taking an enormous hit in Social Security benefits even though I’ve currently contributed to SS for over 25 years. (My CalSTRS monthly payout will be peanuts, but it will significantly offset my Social Security payments.)

ETA: apologies for further derailment.


meanwhile, amazon “pays” a negative tax rate, apple shelters 40 billion overseas, and covid funds are used to buy sports cars.

thank god for priorities


Good answer.

And … most of our social welfare programs might well actually be cheaper as universal benefits. SS and Medicare (without the earnings cap) are actually pretty good models - because they come without stigma, and without the social cost of beneficiaries’ having to prove that they’re among the ‘deserving poor’. (Even beyond the general and administrative cost of assessing the ‘deserving’ status.)

The big problem with Medicare is cost containment, since it’s required by law to pay pretty much whatever providers demand (at least in aggregate: ‘reasonable and customary’ is a euphemism for ‘collective bargaining with providers’). Because SS has no such problem (it’s a simple cash payment to the beneficiary) a certain class of politicians are trying to label its beneficiaries as ‘sponging off the government.’ Essentially, this group wants to rebrand the programs so as to stigmatize everyone over retirement age.

And somehow they continue to get the votes of retired people.


Sort of, but it’s still misrepresented when people characterize it as a kind of savings account.

It’s really more of a pact from one generation to the next. The money I’m paying is supporting my parents’ generation, when I retire it will be my children’s generation that (hopefully) supports me. That’s why the first generation to benefit from Social Security didn’t have to pay into the program and the last generation to pay into the program is going to get screwed.


SS =/= SSI or SSD

Social Security is taken out like taxes from SOME jobs - if you have a civil service pension, you don’t pay in. You can work all you want after starting to collect Social Security, but you pay taxes on that income.
SSD, the disability part of Social Security, is for if you get disabled and can’t work. You eligibility is based on specific past work records.
SSI is a need-based program, generally for people who don’t qualify for SS Disability, have no income and little to no resources. If you make money, it counts against your SSI. If you get money, it counts against you SSI. If you have any savings, or a nice car, it counts against it too, of course. And if you don’t report that you made $200 at a flea market, it counts as fraud.

AMA about SSD, SSI, and need-based programs. I became an expert on them by attempting to collect disability after chronic illness made it impossible for me to work a normal job. You almost have to be an expert to navigate the system, or hire a lawyer. (There’s a LOT of lawyers making a good living on this.)