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Re: Social Security and Medicare

•    The Federal rule for subsidized housing rent
•    Cutting cost of living increases for social security

Dear President Obama,

I am a senior citizen, almost 69 years old.  I live on my social security check and that alone.  I also live in a CHA building for seniors in Chicago.

Although I am an educated woman, medical problems brought me to a state I never thought I’d see.  I’ve worked all my life, beginning at age 9 on a dairy farm in Arizona.  At that time I could and did lift 100 pound sacks of grain into bins, helped milk a bunch of cows before and after school, washed the barn, dug postholes for fences, irrigated the field, and all the things done on a dairy farm.  Once I dug out a cesspool.

Because I did the labor of a grown man until I was in my mid-teens, I was left with a bad case of osteoarthritis.  I worked to put myself through college earning both a B.A. and M.A., becoming the only person among my sisters and brothers to get a degree.  I worked as a customer service person, claims adjuster, manager, writer, a business co-owner (until a divorce), cab driver, as an educator in the business world, and consultant.

So how did I end up here?

The usual way – medical issues and medical bills, resulting in spending every cent I saved until I applied for social security just before I turned 63.  At that time I discovered I also had fibromyalgia, a nerve disease in which one hurts all over all the time. I had already had both knees replaced, both shoulder joints replaced, and a lumpectomy for breast cancer, all within a five year period. I also ran out of physical and mental energy.  

Even now I would like nothing better than being able to work again.  But I cannot.

When I applied for social security I had less than $10.00 in my pocket.  I am a proud woman who did not want to live off her children so I did not tell them until after I received my social security check.  The social security person convinced me to apply for disability as well.

Since then, my social security check is my only income.  I depend on it and on Medicare.  I pay for Medicare before I get my check, around one hundred dollars.  

Then I pay for a supplemental to cover what Medicare does not cover, over $140.00 per month currently, and for prescription drug coverage around $36.00 per month.  (By the way, I pay more to cover the 20% Medicare does not cover than I pay for Medicare, which covers 80% of the costs of health care.)

You can see that my social security check has suddenly gotten smaller.

Re: The Federal rule for subsidized housing rent

1.    The CHA looks at my income each year before I sign my next lease, then they adjust my rent, 30% of my gross adjusted income.  They include any cost of living increase in their calculations.  That’s a federal rule. This virtually consumes any  any cost of living increase we get.

While everything else in the world goes up, including co-pays for prescription drugs, food, clothing, and all the other commodities in the world such as a hamburger at lunch at a fast food place, we never see that increase.  It is consumed by the rent increase.

•    Our expenses increase as inflation rises.
•    Our rent increases as well, eating up any money needed to account for the rise of the things in life we need in order to survive, including food and prescriptions.

2.    I ask you to change this rule.  I would like the federal government to make certain the 30% rule does NOT include any cost of living increase we might get.  Otherwise, seniors just fall further behind every year.  

Re: Cutting cost of living increases for social security 

Then there is, of course, the proposed reduction of cost of living increases on already stressed seniors.  

How in any universe is that right?  

Why “trim” the income of seniors?  What does one do without, food, prescriptions?

I am lucky.  I have two loving children who will never let me go hungry or be without the medication I need.  Not all seniors are so fortunate.  Many people in my building have no children or close family.  To whom do they turn?

These are the people who taught the country’s children, served food at diners and 4-star restaurants, helped build buildings – nurses, teachers, construction workers, clerks,  engineers, salespeople, composers, musicians (both classical and jazz), one who skated in the Ice Capades, legal secretaries, and yes, writers.

There are a number of folks in my building walking around without teeth or who have only a few teeth.  Dental care is not included in Medicare.  The county hospital does extractions only, other clinics charge on a not-generous sliding scale, other places charge full price.

A person can die from infected teeth.  Where is the dignity in that?  Why is dental care not included in Medicare?

And now both social security and Medicare seem to be on the negotiating table.  I am totally opposed to this.  Why should seniors (or sick children) pay for the richest among us to get a tax “break?”  

It is unconscionable.  

Seniors have paid the price already, working all their lives and contributing to both social security and Medicare.  And in what universe do children pay the price?  How selfish does one have to be to pocket yet more money on the backs of these folks?  

How much money do the rich have to have to say they have enough?   And the Republicans claim to be Christians.  Clearly none of them have actually read the bible.

I am a Democrat, a Liberal.  I worked to elect you in ’08 and in ’12.  I was happy to do it.  I rejoiced when you were elected, both times.  

Don’t let us down, Mr. President.  Please take social security and Medicare off the table.  Don’t short the seniors and other people in need to placate the far Right people.  

Please remember that when you say you “must make some hard choices” who it really applies to.  For whom is it a difficult?  For whom is it hard?  The answer is not the Senator or Congressperson or President.  The answer is the people who are affected – we will be the ones who suffer.

NOTE: I am having continuing problems with my computer so I may be in and out of contact. But I will read and comment as much as I am able.

Originally posted to Liberal Granny on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:15 AM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Beautifully written (15+ / 0-)


    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:26:15 AM PST

  •  Yours is better than mine, but here's mine: (13+ / 0-)

    I voted for you, President Obama, and I worked for your campaign phone banking in states like Indiana and Pennsylvania and registering 6000 new voters in my  county, San Mateo, CA. I have worked hard to trust you despite my misgivings about many of your policies. The cynical shut out of single payer advocates and the use of lobbyists to write the bill in the run up to the ACA disgusted me. Since it passed, my union healthcare payments have gone up 300% and my co-pays have gone up 100%. I didn't complain. I was willing to eat it so people without healthcare could get it.
    Now you want to change the way my Social Security is calculated. You want to open the door to the destruction of Social Security by changing it into a welfare program instead of a Social Insurance program. I don't get Social Security yet, but I will in August. I applied early because I knew it was in danger. With your plan, I not only take a 10% cut, I take increasingly higher cuts over my remaining life span. And that's just Social Security. I haven't been able to look at what you plan to do to Medicare and Medicaid. I'll have to take one of my antihypertensive meds before I can look at the rest of your plans for America's seniors, disabled, children and veterans. You are certainly eroding my faith in the power of government to do good. I'm beginning to believe in the power of government to distort and destroy good policy to benefit a few rich and powerful people.
    I'm drawing my line in the sand. If Social Security and/or Medicare is harmed in the passage of the budget, I will not vote for you or any Democrat who supports your plan.
    My advice to you-call the Republicans' bluff on the debt ceiling. And don't touch either Social Security or Medicare  right now.
    This is an old one. I wrote one more recently but can't find it. In the newer one I mentioned that we made 250,000 calls from our Dem Volunteer Center in San Mateo County to elect President Obama. We called Colorado, Nevada, etc.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:28:36 AM PST

  •  The signature issue of the (14+ / 0-)

    Democratic Party in the last 80 years, the most successful federal program in history, and Dems want to use it as a barginning chip.  I'm with YOU, granny.  If you don't want your parents to move in with you, DEFEND SS.  If you don't want to go bankrupt taking care of a disabled Child, DEFEND SS.  If you don't want to deal with orphans in the street, DEFEND SS.

    Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne

    by scurrvydog on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:30:13 AM PST

  •  Thanks for sharing this. We all should share (8+ / 0-)

    your diary far and wide.

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:34:14 AM PST

  •  the people who talk (8+ / 0-)

    about SS and Medicare being 'entitlements' can afford to live without them. The rest of us, who paid into them for years (and on our entire incomes), have a very different view.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:48:10 AM PST

  •  My letter - Democrats will be held accountable (6+ / 0-)

    If the Democratic Party cuts Social Security or Medicare benefits I will hold it accountable from the top of the ballot to the bottom in 2014 and 2016.  

    Or to keep it simple:

    I will vote on this issue.

  •  Great letter. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Granny, whaddaya, tardis10

    I am in a similar position and I am fortunate to have family members who help me.

    I cry for the people who do not have anyone. How do they survive?

    •  That'a why it's so important to maintain Social (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Security, Medicare, and Medicaid with at least the current levels. I do trust the President but I wanted him to know how real it is out here.

      I wait for single payer for everyone for health insurance, but the cost of living expenses should continue for all recipients, not just the younger ones.

      I would like to see those who are wealthier to pay higher premiums. Seeing that they could probably pay out of pocket for their healthcare, receiving Medicare is a gift to those folks.

      I would also like the FICA ceiling to be raised a lot higher, according to income for everyone, not just folks who make an ordinary living.

  •  My Story (3+ / 0-)

    In 2003 I lost a postion in International Sales that I had since 1980.  I had started with the company as a Secretary and worked my way up to Management and finally a dream job.  The job was 24/7 with me getting calls at all hours due to time differences.  Problems always needed to be solved.  Since I was Management I didn't get overtime but had an excellent salary plus a yearly bonus and other "perks."  I never thought this job would end but 9/11 cut sales and a new management team did.  I was let go and so was the V.P. of International Sales.  

    Being in such a stressful job, I took a year off since I got a large severance package and was able to collect unemployment, just to unstress myself.  When I started looking again it was difficult since the industry I was in was still taking a hit (I worked with Architectural and Interior Design Community) and didn't find another position until 2005.  It was a great job because even though my salary was about $15,000 lower than my previous position I got 2 bonuses per year and it was a 9 to 5 position unless we had a special event and/or a sales meeting.  I lost money but thought it was a great job because I now had a personal life.

    In Oct 2009 that ended, again due to the economy as you may well know.  I got a severance package but unlike my previous package (2 weeks for every year) I only got 10 weeks).  I had 2 401K plans (one from each company but the 2nd one was only in the low teens), a pension, a Roth IRA but they all took large hits when the markets tanked.  I tried to find another position but every section of my industry was devistated so at the age of 63 I elected to take early retirement and look for a part time job.  I had a couple of them, all were temporary and I knew that when I took them but needed the additional money.  I lost over $400 per month by taking early S.S. and living in NYC my expenses are higher than someone living in another part of the country.  My savings are just now about what they were when the markets tanked but I fear using them because I don't want to outlive that savings.

    President Obama, give us a break.  I worked all my life, even going to college at night from the day I graduated high school and this is what I have to show for it.  I don't have a husband and I don't want to ask my family for assistance since they have problems also.  I am fearful of the future and what it holds for me.  I'm looking for a part time job but I can send out 100 resumes per month and maybe get 1 or 2 replies and that includes the ones that you automatically know are B.S. (I'm traveling out of the country but need you to handle my business so give me your S.S. # and I'll hire you).  The amount I get from S.S. currently covers my expenses and maybe a few dollars left over.  I cannot take any hit on this money and after almost 40 years of working feel that I shouldn't have to worry.  Don't touch my S.S. or my Medicare I worked hard for it and so did millions of others like me.  Whoever thought 20 or 30 years ago we would be in this positon, I know I didn't nor did any of us.  

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

    by Rosalie907 on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 12:34:29 PM PST

  •  Great letter. Which I shared (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Granny

    with a (off the record)  list-serv that includes all of the big DC names on our side of the Social Security issue.

    It's a weekend and most of these people are M-F 9-5 folk who get this mail at their work so not much response yet.

    On the other hand recipients include one person who is on most people's short list for Social Security Commissioner (position just became vacant) and a couple of others who should be. So even if Obama never reads it, there is a good chance that people who matter will.

    (Also of course republished to the dKos Social Security Defenders Group).

    Thanks Granny, best pushback on Chained-CPI that I have read recently. And I read just about everything SS related. - SocSec.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders group - (hmm is there a theme emerging here?)

    by Bruce Webb on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 02:42:27 PM PST

    •  I think you should write it. I believe it will (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      make a difference.

      •  Yes, but albeit choices were hard... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Granny

        I made those choices and it'd arguably strong to say that I had other options.

        Maybe I'll write about it, but I'm at present revisiting the available options to choose again; before that is done, I feel I'm not in a position to present my case as accurately as it deservedly has to be.

        Thank you for your Diary, you made such a strong case without trolling for sympathy, so matter of fact that it made it so strong and compelling.

        Though I also have health issues, mine pale in comparison to yours. I also worked and paid into the system for over 30 years and at present I'm receiving SSDI, which, also in comparison to SSI recipients, makes me a very well off person. All my needs minus healthcare insurance and associated costs, are very well covered.

        I'm OK, but also determined to continue the fight that I was so proud to be a part together with Teddy, whom I'll never forget and to whom I committed to continue the fight until everyone has health insurance insisting in a Public Option.

        We'll get there, I only hope I'm still around to see it, but in any event, I'll do my best to stick around; we all have to should strive for that.

        Much love,

        Aurora [AKA Tranny, Cihuamexica]

        I have a little memorial for Teddy in one of my blogs (My very first blog which is in desperate need of fixes & upgrades)

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