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“Battle Lines Form in the Fight Over Social Security Payment Reductions”

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This August 5, 2015 MSN Money article talks about the impending crisis involving the money in the SSDI program drying up by the end of 2016.  The article includes a few ideas being tossed around for correcting the problem or at least for buying time until a solution can be found.  The article indicates that less than 1% of the social Security tax paid by employees goes into funding SSDI compared to over 5% going into retirement. One idea in the article is to increase the percentage of the Social Security tax by a couple of percentage points to increase the amount of money going into the disability fund.

“Meet Ida May Fuller, recipient of 1st Social Security check”

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This January 30, 2015 AP news article found on the Lancaster Online Website talks about the recipient of the first Social Security check, and offers a stark reminder that without action on the part of the federal government, Social Security Disability will be out of money in 2016.  The rich seem to view the disabled as expendable and as such when costs need cut, the first cuts to occur generally impact the poor, disabled and middle class.  If those on Social Security don’t come together and rally for change, we will remain easy targets for the rich to prey on.

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Wyden Hearing Statement on Keeping the Promise of Social Security”

Article Link

This July 25, 2014 InsuranceNewsNet.Com article talks about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the need to shore it up by 2016, but also reminds us that it is a benefit that is earned and not simply a handout.

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Shutdown impact: Tourists, homebuyers hit quickly”

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This September 28, 2013 article found on the TimesLeader.com website talks about the potential Government shutdown and offers an overview of what services would be effected.

Top Pa. officials to get 1.7 percent pay raise – TimesObserver.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information – The Times Observer

Top Pa. officials to get 1.7 percent pay raise – TimesObserver.com

The above link will take you to an article that I found on the front page of the TimesObserver which is the local paper for the Warren, PA area.  Before anyone starts telling me it has nothing to do with mental health, I will say those who are thinking that are partially right.  I say partially, because in the broader picture, this is something that has stroong potential for effecting folks with mental illnesses in Pennsylvania, because as many are aware, last year the state decided to decrease what the amount they paid for the state’s portion of Supplimental Security Income (SSI)  While I at the time commended legislatures on not getting a COLA increase, I am no concerned because they are slated for a 1.7% pay raise and it was just within the past few months that I saw an article in the same paper indicating that the chance of folks on Social Security getting an increase were slim at best and I believe there might have been mention of another decrease being discussed.  So those who are elderly, disabled and any other groups who happen to have a need for Social Security are at risk of not getting any kind of increase, while State government officials are most likely going to get an increase in their pay.

I feel that this is one of those times where from whee I’m sitting it seems like the state government is looking out for themselves and ignoring the fact that they have caused hardship on the more vulnerable portion of the Pennsylvania citizens.  funny how you are suppose to be working for us, but in reality especially for those of us in all aspects of the mental health community it feels like you are working against us.

hb 1587 – Rent Rebate fairness bill

https://pamhi.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/hb1587-points.pdf

The link above is for a PDF file that gives talking points about Hb 1587 which if passed would enable folks in personal care homes to have the ability to keep the full amount of their rent rebate checks as opposed to their current ability to only keep 50% for themselves, with the other half going to the personal care home which is something no other landlord is able to do.

I looked up “Rebate” on http://www.dictionary.com and the following is a definition I found listed from the Legal Dictionary for the word “rebate”

Legal Dictionary

re·bate

Pronunciation: 'rE-"bAt
Function: noun

:  a refund or deduction of part of a payment, price, or charge — re·bate /'rE-"bAt, ri-'bAt/ verb

“rebate.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 17 Jun. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rebate>.

Social Security going green

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/21/AR2010042104780.html

The above link will take you to an article that was in the Washington Post on April 22, 2010.  It is something the folks receiving Social Security should be aware of.  While the article indicates primarily new recipients will be receiving their benefits electronically, it is something that I suspect that everyone will be effected by eventually.

“The Treasury Department is making a big push to go green — and save a lot of green — by switching millions of people who receive Social Security and other federal benefits from paper checks to electronic payments.” – Washington Post April 22, 2010

MHA PA: Act Now! – “Stop the Cuts to Pennsylvania’s Most Vulnerable Citizens!”

http://www.mhapa.org/act_now_021610.htm

This link will take you to the MHA-PA website, specifically a page where they are encouraging folks to contact their PA Legislatures and let them know what kind of impact their decision to impliment a ‘cost of living decrease’ to folks on SSI in Pennsylvania.

MHA is also holding a rally to protest this decrease, details will be in a seperate post so they are easier to locate.

Workers World: “SSI cuts target state’s poor”

The following article talks about a march held in protest of what I’ve been refering to as “Pennsylvania’s Cost of living decrease for those on SSI”

http://www.workers.org/2010/us/ssi_cuts_0218/

PENNSYLVANIA

SSI cuts target state’s poor

By Betsey Piette
Philadelphia

Published Feb 12, 2010 8:16 PM

Nearly 200 demonstrators, many in wheelchairs, gathered at the Broad Street Ministry on Feb. 3 to march to City Hall in protest of $22 million in cuts to Supplemental Security Income. The cuts took effect in Pennsylvania on Feb. 1.

Many participants in this “funeral procession for justice” wore black or carried mock coffins and tombstone-shaped placards, underscoring the deadly aspect this devastating blow will have for 340,000 of the state’s most vulnerable residents, 67,000 of whom are children.

The state has tried to downplay the monthly SSI decrease of $5 for individuals and $10 for families as insignificant. The official announcement about the cuts was not even made until two weeks before they were scheduled to take effect, even though the state’s budget was approved in September.

For people with disabilities, seniors and children on SSI already struggling to survive on $600 a month or less, these reductions could mean the inability to afford the co-payment on an important medicine or to buy tokens to get to school. For people with incomes already just 77.7 percent of the federal poverty level, the loss of even $5 can be devastating.

Many elderly and disabled in the state rely on paratransit services, which can cost $20 for just one round trip. For families with children, $10 less a month — the cost of a box of cereal and a gallon of milk — might mean skipping yet another meal.

Nearly one-third of the state’s SSI recipients live in Philadelphia, where very few supermarkets are easily accessible without a car. For the 30,000 others living in the surrounding suburbs, grocery options are often limited to higher-priced stores like Whole Foods.

Speakers at the rally noted that as Pennsylvania state legislators and Gov. Ed Rendell are taking money from the poorest in the state, plans were dropped to tax corporations that are rapidly expanding drilling for natural gas. These companies are using the environmentally hazardous process of hydraulic fracturing.

Rally organizers handed out hundreds of fliers to people along the march route urging them to call Gov. Rendell and area state legislators to reverse the cuts.


Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Follow up … Do I laugh or Cry?!?!

I know the post “Do I laugh or do I cry” was pretty charged and in many ways could amount to more of a rant rather then anything overly constructive with the exception of the idea that others can see copies of scanned documents I received I have to say there is a lot wrong with that particular post despite being based on the information I had at the time I wrote it.

Some thingsa I feel I need to clear up…

In the other post I said something about hoping that our state government doesn’t vote for a raise for themselves in light of the cost of living decrease they handed to folks on SSI.  In light of being in contact with a state representative, it is my understanding that the legislatures did NOT get an increase in their income this last time.

I also feel like I need to clarify that I personally don’t expect an increase in my Social Security benefits every year, and do understand that the economy hasn’t been too good in recent times.  I would have been mopre accepting if I had been told that my benefits would be frozen at their current amount until the economy improves, as opposed to having them decreased.  I don’t know numbers or anything to back this up, but I suspect there are others out there who hoped for an increase, but would have been understanding if they were told there wouldn’t be an increase and that benefit amounts were frozen.

For me personally, I think the thing that frustrated me the most, is that I was told by Social Security I qualified for “X” amount of dollars in benefits, and then to have the State decide to decrease that amount, despite the fact that I hadn’t had any changes such as a job, birth of a child, marriage, divorse or any of the other things that can effect my benefits, I felt like I was being told yes I qualify for a certain amount, but the state wasn’t going to hold up their end of what on some level has the appearance of a contract based on my qualifications for the benefits.  My understanding had been that as long as I met the qualifications, and I reported any changes in regards to other income or  things like marriages, divorce, birth whatever, I would be receiving a certain ammount that wouldn’t decrease unless something on my end changed.  that is pretty much how Social Security portrays the benefits to people receiving them, I never once was told that my benefits could go down because of decisions made by my state or federal government.  In light of this, I would like to ask that Social Security at both the state and federal levels, better inform those receiving Social Security benefits that it is possible for the government to decrease benefit amounts without notice, based on what the government feels is best rather then them looking to see what the actual impact could be beyond the actual budget they are working on.  With something like Social Security, politicians and the general public need to realize that while it looks like just numbers on paper, behind every single number on that paper, is a life that will be impacted in some way by the decisions made about the numbers.  For folks who live below the poverty level, a change of $5 can be huge in terms of being able to meet basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and for those who do try to work or are even in the process of going to college in an attempt to better themselves and gain skills that might make them more employable, the $5 decrease that PA State Government decided on, could mean the difference between being able to have money to pay for tranportation to get to class or work, so while I keep hearing about programs like “Ticket to work” or “Welfare to work” personally I find that decisions such as the one made by the PA state government to decrease benefits is pretty much counter productive for those trying to make an effort.  We are told we can keep our helth coverage for “X” amopunt of time while we work even if we don’t qualify for Social Security, but then if we don’t have the skills to get a job where the employer offers health insurance comparable to what we had, it puts us in a position where we have to choose between paying rent or paying for healthcare, and many will choose things like food, rent, transportation, and clothing over medication if put in that position.  For folks with mental health disabilities, putting us in a position like that can result in us not getting the medication we need to remain stable enough to continue to work, and result in us having to quit working and go back on Social Security or other benefits just so we can once again stabilize our disabling mental health issues.  For someone with a severe and disabling mental illness, it can take several years for them to stabilize enough to where they are able to return to work, but then they are risking putting themself back into a situation where they once again have to choose pretty much between sanity and insanity because of a high potential for not having access to health care coverage to prevent having to choose between medication and a basic necesity like food, clothing or shelter.  It’s a viscious circle and I know based on experience that there are people out ther who believe that if everyone on social security or welfare simply “got a job” everything would be better, but I have to ask these people are they saying it would be better for the individual being told to get a job?  or would it be better for the person making or implying such statements who obviously have no clue what life with a disability of any kind is like.  For me personally to be able to work I would need a guarantee that I would have adaquate health care coverage that was compareable to my current coverage with coverage for my mental health treatment being treated equal to the treatment avaiable to someone with a medical condition such as diabetes, which I have been told for years that for me, taking my meds is as important as insulin is to a diabetic, but yet I’m told that unlike the diabetic, if I’m working, heath insurance isn’t required to give me the same coverage for my medications and other vital treatment as a diabetic would be entitled to with the same health care coverage.

No, I don’t have a degree that I can say backs up anything I’m expressing, but I can say I have life experience that has taught me that because my disability is a mental health disability, I’m better off not working then I am to attempt to work.  Society through their policies has taught me that, but given a chance to work at a job that was friendly to my mental health disability and provided me with insurance compareable to what I have now, I would make an honest effort to try to work at least part-time.  Until I find that combination, I will do what I can to give back to society through my limited freelance writing, and other odd jobs I sometimes do mostly on a volunteer basis, just so I can feel like I’m making an effort to be productive in some way regardless of the views held by those who would claim I’m freeloading.

So while this may be in some ways, yet another rant, I hope that people will be more aware of the viscious circle that folks like me end up in because of society’s view of us and the fact that I believe that many, not all, but many politicians forget that there are lives that will be impacticted by changes made to the numbers they are juggling when balancing budgets.  I feel that special interest typ projects that by design will only impact an individual community, such as funding for stadiums for example should be where cuts should be made, not because stauims don’t serve a purpose, but because people can live without a stadium, they can’t live without food.

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