WBEZ | Social Security http://www.wbez.org/tags/social-security Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Receive Social Security? No increase for you next year http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-10-15/receive-social-security-no-increase-you-next-year-113351 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/handretirement.jpg" style="height: 362px; width: 620px;" title="Cost of Living Adjustment, also known as COLA, is pegged to inflation, which, like old soda, is flat. (Alana Post / Creative Commons)" /></div><p>Every year since 1975, there has been a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and other benefits. It&#39;s pegged to inflation,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/inflation-barely-moving-despite-feds-efforts" target="_blank">which has been pretty much flat recently</a>, leading many economists to expect there won&rsquo;t be any COLA this year. It would be the just the third time in four decades that&rsquo;s happened, all within the last five years. About 70 million people on social security and other benefit programs will be affected.</p><p>78-year-old Jane lives in subsidized, assisted living unit at&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mercyhousing.org/" target="_blank">Mercy Housing</a>&nbsp;in Knoxville, Tennessee, and relies on social security for rent, health care, and groceries. She said those things are getting more expensive, and was looking forward to a benefits increase.</p><p>Without it, she said, &quot;I think it&rsquo;s going to work a hardship on a lot of senior citizens.&rdquo; She said she&#39;ll probably have to cut back on groceries because her prescription drug prices are going up as well and she doesn&#39;t know where else to cut.</p><p>But economists say low inflation means people shouldn&rsquo;t need the adjustment. In theory, low inflation means the cost of goods shouldn&#39;t be going up. Given what we learn each month from the consumer price index, things will probably stay that way for a while yet.</p><p>&ldquo;[People] will be able to purchase as much stuff in 2016 as they did in 2015,&rdquo; with the same amount of money, said&nbsp;<a href="https://www2.bc.edu/~munnell/" target="_blank">Alicia Munnell</a>, director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://crr.bc.edu/" target="_blank">Center for Retirement Research&nbsp;</a>at Boston College.</p><p>But small changes in prices can be particularly acute for those on a fixed income. Munnell has forthcoming research comparing whether the inflation experienced by seniors differs significantly from everyone else, as some argue. She said in the&nbsp;big picture, some higher costs for seniors, like health care, are offset elsewhere.</p><p>&ldquo;There are other components that the elderly do not spend money on, such as tuition and things like that,&rdquo; she said. Younger people have to absorb rising costs of child care and education, plus spend more in certain sectors of the economy than seniors. Munnell said that balances things out on paper, even if not in the lives of every senior.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/receive-social-security-no-increase-you-next-year" target="_blank"><em> via Marketplace</em></a></p></p> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 11:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-10-15/receive-social-security-no-increase-you-next-year-113351 To please GOP, again, Obama offers Social Security cuts http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/please-gop-again-obama-offers-social-security-cuts-106540 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/image_0.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="File: President Barack Obama (AP/File)" />Is President Barack Obama playing the Republicans &ndash; or is he playing us?</div><p><br />Do you believe <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/us/social-programs-face-cutback-in-obama-budget.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">the budget he&rsquo;s presenting this week </a>&ndash; the first time in history a Democratic president tries to cut Social Security &ndash; is a shrewd political move to divide the GOP, or do you think the president wouldn&rsquo;t mind tying Social Security benefits to a new formula, called &ldquo;chained CPI,&rdquo; that would effectively reduce benefits to everyone?<br /><br />This is, after all, the president who came up with the sequester as an idea that was so abhorrent no one in their right mind would let it actually occur &hellip; <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2013/02/sequestration_deadline_is_barack_obama_or_the_republican_party_to_blame.html">and thus the Republicans would come around</a> and cut a decent debt-limit deal and get budget talks going. Except, of course, it didn&rsquo;t quite happen that way &hellip;<br /><br />And this is the president who extended <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-12/once-more-boehner-gets-better-obama-104476">tax cuts for the rich</a> as a way to bring Republicans around, and who got his ass handed to him after <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-08-01/obama-bends-again-89908">giving the GOP nearly everything</a> they wanted on the last round of budget talks a couple of years ago.<br /><br />So when I see Obama proposing what are, for all practical purposes, cuts in Social Security &ndash; that is, not a new math on Social Security but actually less money in the paycheck to recipients &ndash; as a bargaining strategy, I get a little nervous.<br /><br />As far as I&rsquo;m concerned, the president is playing with fire.<br /><br />And let&rsquo;s be clear: This scenario &ndash; in which the budget proposal is just a ploy &ndash; is the one in which Obama&rsquo;s getting the benefit of the doubt, in which I&rsquo;m willing to suspend lots and lots of disbelief and pretend his Inner Republican doesn&rsquo;t actually think Social Security and other social safety net programs should be cut. (Aside: I&rsquo;m over &ldquo;entitlements,&rdquo; the GOP&rsquo;s irony rich name for these programs which are, much more accurately, social safety net programs.)<br /><br />Why cut Social Security, which is mere single digits of the federal budget and the national debt? Social Security is probably the <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/business/columnists/scott-burns/20130406-burns-social-security-is-the-best-funded-part-of-our-government.ece">best funded government program</a>, with enough of a surplus to lend the government a bushel of billions and still keep enough cash on hand to pay its bills for the next three years without taking in a single dime.&nbsp; In fact, Forbes (!) says <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2013/01/07/social-security-rerun/">Social Security simply can&rsquo;t go bankrupt</a> &ndash; unless we change the rules to make it do just that.<br /><br />But the Republicans have a boner for Social Security &ndash; their rich supporters, who don&rsquo;t need Social Security in their old age, would like to keep those extra pennies they&rsquo;re being forced to pay into Social Security.<br /><br />And Obama has a boner for cutting a deal &ndash; any deal &ndash; with the GOP so he can say he did it, that he crossed that bipartisan bridge, that absolutely everyone likes him, at least a little. (He&rsquo;s hosting another Republican Senate dinner this week as part of his charm offensive &ndash; a campaign, stealth before and overt now, that has netted him pretty paltry results in his four-plus years in power.)<br /><br />Never mind that most <a href="http://www.ncpssm.org/EntitledtoKnow/entryid/1953/Americans-Don-t-Support-Cutting-Social-Security-Medicare-for-Deficit-Reduction-Even-Wall-Street-backed-Third-Way-Agrees#.UWLmAaKsiSo">Americans overwhelmingly support protecting Social Security</a> and other social safety net programs. Or that Obama&#39;s proposal will do nothing to ease the debt.<br /><br />Predictably, <a href="http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/04/liberals-obama-social-security.php?ref=fpb">the left has exploded</a> over Obama&rsquo;s proposal. The head of the AFL-CIO &ndash; which poured millions of dollars and provided millions of volunteers for Obama&rsquo;s re-election &ndash; has called the proposal &ldquo;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/06/obama-budget-proposal-cut_n_3029598.html">unconscionable</a>.&rdquo;<br /><br />I say &ldquo;predictably&rdquo; because there&rsquo;s a certain circular media narrative to all this that, in the end, seems to obscure some crucial facts, such as this: 75 percent of Americans nearing retirement age have <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/our-ridiculous-approach-to-retirement.html?_r=0">less than $30,000</a> in their retirement accounts. How exactly are they supposed to survive, especially if Social Security gets cut, even by a little?</p></p> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 12:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/please-gop-again-obama-offers-social-security-cuts-106540 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 The changing reality of retirement http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/changing-reality-retirement-100423 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/retirement.jpg" style="float: left;" title="(Flickr/s_falkow)" />The United States is getting older, and not just as a country&mdash;our population is aging.&nbsp; The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 8,000 people turn 65 each day. But as the baby boomer population ages, many are discovering that &ldquo;the golden years&rdquo; are a thing of the past.</div><p>Retirement expert <a href="http://fsp.bc.edu/steven-a-sass/">Steven Sass</a> says that as social security and pension benefits wane, many people find themselves working longer into their lifespans than expected.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s just one of the new realities facing a bulging baby boomer population.</p><p>Tuesday on <em>Afternoon Shift</em>, we explore the changing face of retirement with Steven Sass, associate director of the <a href="http://fsp.bc.edu/">Financial Security Project</a> at Boston College. Loyola University business ethics professor and philosopher <a href="http://www.luc.edu/sba/facultystaff/faculty/algini/">Al Gini</a> will also be on hand as we take your calls and questions about retiring in an unstable economic landscape. Call 312-923-9239 just after 2:00 p.m. to share your personal story or pick our experts&rsquo; brains.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 26 Jun 2012 12:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/changing-reality-retirement-100423 Possible GOP presidential contender visits Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/2012city-club-chicago/possible-gop-presidential-contender-visits-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//108639518.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some potential Republican Presidential hopefuls are commemorating President Reagan's 100<sup>th</sup> birthday by heading to Illinois. Reagan was born in Tampico, Ill and spent most of his childhood in Dixon, Ill. One of those Republicans is Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota. He took a break from touring for his new book, &ldquo;Courage to Stand&rdquo; to give a campaign-like address to the City Club of Chicago.</p> <div>Despite being on President Obama&rsquo;s home turf, Pawlenty said he's not intimidated by Chicago or the rest of the predominantly Democratic state.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;This is a hugely important city in a hugely important state,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And if you want to get a pulse on what&rsquo;s going on in the country you gotta see the whole country and that includes Chicago and certainly includes Illinois.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Pawlenty discussed the challenges he faced as a Republican governor in a historically blue state. He also focused his speech on the need to reduce government spending, reform health care and simplify the tax code, which he called a &ldquo;ridiculous, awful system.&rdquo; &nbsp;He said he will make a decision in the next few months on whether he will enter the 2012 presidential race. Meanwhile former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich is also in Illinois today. He is promoting his new book and documentary about Ronald Reagan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 22:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/2012city-club-chicago/possible-gop-presidential-contender-visits-chicago