For Immediate Release
February 9, 2006
Contact: Gary Chandler (970) 308-0986
Angie Paccione Condemns Budget Cuts to Survivor Benefits and Bush Hidden Privatization Plan
The Latest Bush Special Interest Budget Includes a Proposal to Kill Social Security Survivor Benefits and a Hidden Plan to Privatize Social Security
From a recent news report:
“Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday. If this comes as a surprise to you, have no fear. You're not alone. Bush didn't pitch private Social Security accounts in his State of the Union Message last week.” [Newsweek, 2/8/06]
(Fort Collins, CO) – In President Bush’s new budget there are plenty of cuts to important middle class essentials, but the latest cut is to the Social Security Survivor Benefit. This cut continues the Bush administration’s raid on the middle class and could affect hundreds of thousands of families and mean that 16-17 year olds are cut off from benefits in the event of a parent’s death. The Survivor Benefit has been around since the beginning of Social Security and plays an important role in allowing kids to pay for college even under the harsh circumstances of losing a parent. Besides the cut in survivor benefits, Bush’s budget also includes a Social Security privatization plan that he neither mentioned in the State of the Union, nor previewed as a goal for the coming year.
“This cut is wrong,” said Colorado State Representative Angie Paccione. “The Bush proposal to cut Social Security Survivor benefits is a budget cut on the backs of children and their families and yet another nod to special interests. The sneak attack to privatize Social Security is also wrong. We need to stop the George Bush raid on the middle class.”
The Social Security Survivor Benefit
- Social Security makes a onetime payment to a surviving spouse when a worker dies or in some cases to surviving children. This benefit is in addition to regular monthly survivor benefits.
- This type of benefit has been part of Social Security since its inception.
- President Bush’s FY2007 budget proposes to eliminate this benefit (see Budget of the U.S. Government, table S-6, p. 322).
- The benefit cut would hurt over 800,000 widows and surviving children each year. The total size of the cut over 10 years is $2.0 billion.
Bush’s Plan Tucked Into Budget – Reveals True Cost of Risky Privatization Scheme. According to the budget, Social Security privatization would cost $712 billion over 10 years. The cost outside the 10-year budget window would be substantially higher, as the private accounts would not begin until 2010 – three years into the budget window.
In addition, it proposes four other cuts or savings in Social Security benefits, totaling $6.3 billion over 10 years:
- End benefits at age 16 for the child of a deceased, disabled or retired worker if that child is no longer attending school full time. Savings over 10 years: $1.5 billion.
- Eliminate the $255 death benefit paid to surviving spouses or entitled children of a beneficiary who dies. Savings: $2.0 billion.
- Increase enforcement of existing law which reduces benefits for public-sector workers who receive a pension from work not covered by Social Security (the Government Pension Offset, or GPO, and Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP). Savings: $2.4 billion.
- Change the reduction in disability benefits that applies to beneficiaries who also receive workers’ compensation payments. Savings: $0.4 billion, although the Social Security Administration (SSA) intends to revise it so that savings are zero.
The Social Security Administration is Poorly Run. This week, the extent of SSA’s problems caused by the implementation of the drug bill and an inadequate appropriation for 2006 became public, with stories by AP and the Los Angeles Times. SSA received $300 million less than the President had requested for 2006, and Medicare’s failure to effectively implement the new drug benefit has spilled over onto SSA.
Social Security beneficiaries have faced high busy rates on SSA’s 800 number as they desperately sought information, and have poured into the field offices. Overall, the inadequate appropriation and the burden of the drug benefit means longer waiting times on disability claims, and significant cutbacks in program integrity activities, which are designed to make sure those receiving benefits continue to meet the eligibility requirements.
Angie Paccione is currently the State Representative from District 53 in Northern Colorado. She is running against Marilyn Musgrave for the 4th U.S. Congressional District of Colorado. In the State House of Representatives, Paccione has made healthcare, education, and jobs her main priorities.