The History of Social Security is Making Me Mad

And if you are not white, or have ovaries: you should be mad too. I have decided.

I am on my break in the welfare office and listening to coworkers debate Welfare vs Social security  vs SSI. At this point it occurs to me that I hear these other terms a lot in political debates and on the news but I am not very clear on what they are, how they work, or what they mean to me.

What Social security has meant to me so far

Every January I get the cool green fold-out form Social Security assuring me that I have worked enough to become disabled and get money from my government. In March I had the discussion at the Social Security office about why my daughter’s birth certificate and health insurance card were not enough proof for her to receive a Social Security number (and oh ya, she was there with me. I promise, I did not make her up for tax purposes).

I knew it came out of THE NEW DEAL and it was supposed to be some life saving, economy boosting program. Incidentally, just after it was enacted we had a recession. You go figure that one out.  But What it is, who it is for… I don’t know. So I did what I love to do- I read.

Why I am MAD

From the start  jobs that would be performed by women or people of color were put on the Social Security denial list: agricultural labor, domestic service (house keepers, nannies, driver’s), government employees, and many teachers, nurses, hospital employees, librarians, and social workers (hey! that’s me!). NAACP called Social Security ““a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through.”

Women typically could only qualify based on their husbands or children, and to do that: they had to stay home and not work. Apparently all the women going into the workforce were stealing jobs from men. Women were not allowed to collect benefits as mothers and at the same time be workers because they were supposed to stay home and be dependant on their men.

At varies points in the program history there have been attempts to even things out, but women continue to be classified as wives and not workers – even if they paid into the social Security System. If her benefit was less than 50% of his, she wasn’t counted as a worker, just a wife.

Social Security called itself FAMILY PROTECTION and did not treat bastard children or unwed mothers or women the same as it did the men. Social Security gave birth to AFDC and SSI.

SSI just freaks me out.

Did you know you can get SSI even if you are blind for a day or less?  “for SSI purposes, an individual is considered blind regardless of the period of time they are expected to be blind or if they are performing substantial gainful activity”. Oh, and you can have a job, be earning money and STILL get SSI.Is the same true if you are deaf? No. Have lost a limb? No.

I really think that if you could work, and you would be hired if you applied: No SSI for you! “The 1967 amendments specified that workers shall be determined to be under a disability only if the physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that the individual is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy. This is regardless of whether any of these are true:

  • Such work exists in the immediate area in which the claimant lives.
  • A specific job vacancy exists.
  • The claimant would be hired if they applied for work.”

Are you kidding me? Go to work, go to work, go to work and pay into the system you want paying out to you.

And if you find yourself unable to work, THEN go on S.S.I.. Use the Ticket to Work program.

The part of SSI that makes me the most angry is that you can come to America and NEVER WORK A DAY or pay into our Social security system but be a qualified alien or become a citizen and then collect SSI (but teachers who have worked in the US can not).

And, secret bonus perk… be an immigrant from Russia, collect Social Security benefits and go to the Russian consulate with proof of the years you worked in Russia to collect your government pension from there

I want to be  Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont. In 1937, 1938 and 1939 she paid a total of $24.75 into the Social Security System. Her first check was for $22.54. After her second check, Fuller already had received more than she contributed over the three-year period. She lived to be 100 and collected a total of $22,888.92

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_(United_States)#cite_note-Mink-18

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