Friday, January 18, 2019

Is Social Security Safe From The Shutdown?

Like lots of retirees I've begun to wonder how long I can expect my Social Security check to continue to arrive via direct deposit each month so I decided to research the subject.

If you believe the Social Security Administration's claim that there exists a fully funded Social Security Trust Fund then we've nothing to worry about, right?

But what if you believe the long told story that the Johnson Administration did away with the Social Security Trust Fund and put the money in the General Budget? What then? Is our money still safe? The Social Security Administration replies to that question thusly:

Sadly that doesn't really tell us if our checks will continue to come or not. You see, a budget must still be approved each year.

But there is good news from the folks at Kiplinger who write:

"Retirees who depend on their monthly Social Security checks to make ends meet can breathe a sigh of relief: Benefits won't be affected by the partial government shutdown. The Social Security Administration is already funded through September 2019, so services remain in effect and benefits checks will continue to arrive on time, according to the Social Security administration."

But what about after September 2019-- is Social Security still fully funded? From a letter dated September 25, 2018 written by Michelle King, Deputy Commissioner for Budget, Finance, and Management to Mr Mick Mulvaney, Director Office of Management and Budget:

So is the money there or not?

And if the money is there and there is no one working in the Social Security Administration offices come September 2019 will the checks still go out?

That is supposed to be the Social Security Administration's shutdown contingency plan but I'm not sure such a plan really exists and if it does exist is it even workable if there in no one there to do the work. Journalists love to write things like:

"Funding for the programs under Titles II, XVI, and XVIII of the Social Security Act will continue, even in the event of a lapse in appropriations," the plan says."

But just because the plan says it does that make it so?

Maybe it is time we old folk started demanding answers.