Posts Tagged With: United States Congress

How Incorrect Can Politically Correct Be?

"Mine is a world of incomprehensible shad...

“Mine is a world of incomprehensible shadows”. Severely retarded mentally and physically, she never spoke, was stunted and probably never walked. She was one of a quarter of the world’s children at risk of iodine deficiency, known to be the world’s leading cause of preventable mental retardation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has proposed changing the terminology it uses in its regulations and its materials. The SSA proposes changing the term mental retardation” to “intellectual disability.” The Administration has proposed making these changes because it thinks that its current terms can be offensive to some people and that these terms carry negative connotations.

All references to “mental retardation” are being changed

More than two years ago, Congress required that the term “intellectual disability” be used in place of “mental retardation” in all federal health, education and labor policy. This requirement did not apply to the Social Security Administration, however.

In early 2013, the SSA finally moved to follow the lead of Congress. “Advocates for individuals with intellectual disability have asserted that the term ‘mental retardation’ has negative connotations, has become offensive to many people, and often results in misunderstandings about the nature of the disorder and those who have it,” said the SSA in the proposed rule  (NPRM) published in the Federal Register.

The 30-day public comment period on the proposed rule has just passed, and it looks as though the rule will move forward. When it is finalized, all references to “mental retardation” within the SSA’s Listing of Impairments and other rules will be changed to “intellectual disability.”

Also, “mentally retarded children” will be replaced with “children with intellectual disability.”

The language changes are not meant to alter the way SSD claims are evaluated for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Intellectual disability is just one of many mental issues that can entitle you to Social Security Disability benefits. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are examples of other mental health issues that can lead to a disability finding.

Political correctness, or politically correct (PC) is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts, and, as purported by the term, doing so to an excessive extent.

Widespread use of the term politically correct and its derivatives began when it was adopted as a pejorative term by the political right in the 1990s, in the context of the Culture Wars. Writing in the New York Times in 1990, Richard Bernstein noted “The term ‘politically correct,’ with its suggestion of Stalinist orthodoxy, is spoken more with irony and disapproval than with reverence. But across the country the term p.c., as it is commonly abbreviated, is being heard more and more in debates over what should be taught at the universities.” Bernstein referred to a meeting of the Western Humanities Conference in Berkeley, California, on “‘Political Correctness’ and Cultural Studies,” which examined “what effect the pressure to conform to currently fashionable ideas is having on scholarship”. Bernstein also referred to “p.c.p” for “politically correct people,” a term which did not take root in popular discussion.

Within a few years, this previously obscure term featured regularly in the lexicon of the conservative social and political challenges against curriculum expansion and progressive teaching methods in US high schools and universities. In 1991, addressing a graduating class of the University of Michigan, U.S. President George H. W. Bush spoke against “a movement [that would] declare certain topics ‘off-limits,’ certain expressions ‘off-limits’, even certain gestures ‘off-limits'” in allusion to liberal Political Correctness. The most common usage here is as a pejorative term to refer to excessive deference to particular sensibilities at the expense of other considerations. The converse term “politically incorrect” came into use as an implicit term of self-praise, indicating that the user was not afraid to ignore constraints associated with political correctness.

The central uses of the term relate to particular issues of race, gender, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture and worldviews, and encompass both the language in which issues are discussed and the viewpoints that are expressed. Proponents of the view that differences in IQ test scores between Blacks and whites are (primarily or largely) genetically determined state that criticism of these views is based on political correctness.

Examples of language commonly referred to as “politically correct” include:

  • Intellectually disabled” in place of “Mentally Retarded” and other terms
  • “Gay” in place of “homosexual” and other terms
  • “Sexually dysfunctional” in place of “perverted” and other terms
  • “Sex care provider” in place of “prostitute” and other terms
  • African American” in place of “Black,” “Negro” and other terms
  • Native American” (United States)/”First Nations” (Canada) in place of “Indian”
  • “Gender-neutral” terms such as “firefighter” in place of “fireman,” police officer in place of policeman.
  • Terms relating to lack of various common human abilities, such as “visually impaired” or “hearing impaired” in place of “blind” or “deaf”
  • “Caucasian culturrally-challenged” in place of “white trash” and other terms
  • “Undocumented alien” in place of “illegal immigrant” and other terms
  • “Economically unprepared” in place of “poor” and other terms
  • “Sanitation engineer” in place of “janitor” or “garbage man” and other terms
  • “Near-life experience” in place of “abortion” and other terms
  • “Youth group” in place of “gang” and other terms
  • “Senior citizen” in place of “old person” and other terms
  • “Holiday”, “winter” or “festive” in place of “Christmas”

In the United Kingdom, “political correctness gone mad” is a catchphrase associated with the conservative Daily Mail newspaper.

In a more general sense, any policy regarded by the speaker as representing an imposed orthodoxy may be criticized as “politically correct.”

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Why We Need Illegal Immigrants

Billions Earned Under Fake Social Security Numbers Calculate Benefits

 

One of the ironies of the challenging financial future faced by the Social Security Administration is this seldom-discussed fact: Undocumented workers contribute about $13 billion per year to the Social Security Trust Fund, and only get back a small fraction, adding a bit of black ink to a balance sheet in sore need of a boost. As President Obama mulls whether and when to enact executive orders that would affect the status of up to 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, these Social Security payments are a proxy of sorts for the potential power of these workers who now stand in the shadows of the economy.

These immigrants are often accused of creating outsize social services costs, but in this important instance the opposite is true. Undocumented workers using fake, invalid, or borrowed Social Security numbers are subject to payroll taxes but usually receive nothing back. The extent of their contributions hints at the vast scale of the underground economy — and at the economic benefits that could be harnessed by giving undocumented workers a legal way to move out of it.

The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration recently told Vice News that, out of the estimated 7 million unauthorized workers currently in the US labor force, about 3 million use either false or expired Social Security numbers. The payroll taxes paid by these unauthorized workers go into the Social Security’s “Earnings Suspense File” — in effect, money without a lawful home.

“You could say legitimately that had we not received the contributions that we have had in the past from undocumented immigrants . . . that would of course diminish our ability to be paying benefits for as long as we now can,”. Undocumented immigrants have contributed $100 billion into Social Security over the last decade.

Major immigration reform legislation would provide work authorization and Social Security numbers for an estimated 11 million immigrants working here illegally. But without changes to protect Social Security, illegal workers whose status later changes could become entitled to benefits based on jobs worked under fake and invalid Social Security numbers. Social Security could be on the hook for hundreds of billions in new liabilities according to a new  research report based on data from the Social Security Administration.

Unauthorized immigrants getting jobs show employers false or invalid Social Security numbers. When the Social Security Administration receives copies of W2s in which the name and Social Security do not match those on Social Security’s records, they go into the Earnings Suspense File (ESF). The W2s remain on file until the earnings can be reconciled with the real worker, even if that occurs years later. Since 2000, the Social Security Administration has received about 9.3 million such W2s per year on average, representing more than $69.4 billion per year in earnings.

The earnings reported to the ESF over the past 11 years now total more than $763.5 billion, unadjusted for inflation. “Those earnings are important, because that’s what the Social Security Administration uses to determine entitlement and initial benefit amounts — not the amount of taxes paid in,” .

Although Social Security is aware of the problem, no government estimates of the potential future cost of benefits based on work under fake Social Security numbers exist.

Immigration advocates say that the taxes on earnings worked under invalid Social Security numbers help boost Social Security’s financing and that workers would have little chance of collecting benefits. “But that would change under immigration reform that provides work authorization”. “Work authorization and a valid Social Security number are the two requirements that would allow former unauthorized workers to file a claim for benefits.”

That could have significant implications for future Social Security costs because, under current law, the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers to gain employment is not penalized. “One would think that the earnings under fake Social Security numbers would not be used to calculate Social Security benefits. But to the contrary, under current policies, those earnings can be reinstated — no questions asked”.

Social Security uses all earnings to determine entitlement even for jobs worked under fake Social Security numbers. If workers have kept evidence of earnings, like copies of their W2s, tax return earnings under invalid Social Security numbers would be reinstated to the new valid number.

“Congress is considering Social Security changes that would cut the benefits of U.S. citizens and authorized workers who paid into the system under valid Social Security numbers”. “Yet our current polices reward people for the use of fraudulent Social Security numbers, undermining the financial solvency of the program”.

“You could say legitimately that had we not received the contributions that we have had in the past from undocumented immigrants . . . that would of course diminish our ability to be paying benefits for as long as we now can,”. Undocumented immigrants have contributed $100 billion into Social Security over the last decade.

Major immigration reform legislation would provide work authorization and Social Security numbers for an estimated 11 million immigrants working here illegally. But without changes to protect Social Security, illegal workers whose status later changes could become entitled to benefits based on jobs worked under fake and invalid Social Security numbers. Social Security could be on the hook for hundreds of billions in new liabilities according to a new  research report based on data from the Social Security Administration.

Unauthorized immigrants getting jobs show employers false or invalid Social Security numbers. When the Social Security Administration receives copies of W2s in which the name and Social Security do not match those on Social Security’s records, they go into the Earnings Suspense File (ESF). The W2s remain on file until the earnings can be reconciled with the real worker, even if that occurs years later. Since 2000, the Social Security Administration has received about 9.3 million such W2s per year on average, representing more than $69.4 billion per year in earnings.

The earnings reported to the ESF over the past 11 years now total more than $763.5 billion, unadjusted for inflation. “Those earnings are important, because that’s what the Social Security Administration uses to determine entitlement and initial benefit amounts — not the amount of taxes paid in,” .

Although Social Security is aware of the problem, no government estimates of the potential future cost of benefits based on work under fake Social Security numbers exist.

Immigration advocates say that the taxes on earnings worked under invalid Social Security numbers help boost Social Security’s financing and that workers would have little chance of collecting benefits. “But that would change under immigration reform that provides work authorization”. “Work authorization and a valid Social Security number are the two requirements that would allow former unauthorized workers to file a claim for benefits.”

That could have significant implications for future Social Security costs because, under current law, the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers to gain employment is not penalized. “One would think that the earnings under fake Social Security numbers would not be used to calculate Social Security benefits. But to the contrary, under current policies, those earnings can be reinstated — no questions asked”.

Social Security uses all earnings to determine entitlement even for jobs worked under fake Social Security numbers. If workers have kept evidence of earnings, like copies of their W2s, tax return earnings under invalid Social Security numbers would be reinstated to the new valid number.

Congress is considering Social Security changes that would cut the benefits of U.S. citizens and authorized workers who paid into the system under valid Social Security numbers”. “Yet our current polices reward people for the use of fraudulent Social Security numbers, undermining the financial solvency of the program”.

Categories: Social Security Benefits | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Take The Money $$$ And Run!

Take The Money $$ and Run!

by London Steverson on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 2:11pm ·

Monthly Social Security benefits claimed at age 62, rather than 65, are reduced by about 20 percent. The goal of the reduction is to ensure that early retirement does not result in any additional cost to the system. When the reduction was set over 50 years ago, a worker claiming at 62 received benefits for about 20 percent longer than someone claiming at 65. Since then, life expectancy has risen, so that claiming at 62 today means receiving benefits for only 15 percent longer. How can a 20-percent reduction still be right?

The original legislation creating the Social Security program did not allow workers to claim benefits before the program’s eligibility age of 65. In 1956, however, Congress gave women the option to retire as early as age 62 on a reduced monthly benefit, so that married women, who were typically younger, could retire and claim benefits at the same time as their husbands. Congress made the option available to all women, so as not to discriminate against unmarried women. Congress extended the same option to men in 1961, during a recession that made early retirement an attractive policy response.

In 1960 the average life expectancy at age 65 was about 15 years; therefore a worker who claimed at 62, as opposed to 65, collected benefits for three additional years or 20 percent longer (18 years /15 years). If an individual were receiving benefits for 20 percent longer, the only way to keep the cost constant would be to pay 20 percent less each year.

Life expectancy at 65 has increased significantly in the last 50 years. It is now 20 years,    so the worker who claimed at age 62 instead of age 65 would receive benefits for 15 percent longer (23 years/20 years). So why shouldn’t the benefits be reduced by 15 percent to keep costs constant?

The answer is that the cost to the government of providing benefits early is the difference in the present value of expected lifetime benefits starting at age 62 and at age 65. That calculation means that the cost depends on interest rates as well as life expectancy. Real interest rates have increased since 1960, and higher rates shrink the cost of a benefit stream claimed at 65 more than a benefit stream claimed at 62.

The rise in interest rates has largely offset the increase in life expectancy. Calculating the cost of lifetime benefits using the interest rate the Social Security Administration projects over the long-term, 2.9 percent, the cost of benefits claimed at 62 would be 96 percent of the cost of benefits claimed at 65. It suggests that the reduction for early retirement is a little high, but not bad.

In short, the actuarial reduction factor for early retirement, set by Congress over 50 years ago, has proved to be remarkably durable. Despite rising longevity and changes in interest rates, the cost of lifetime benefits claimed at 62 remains reasonably close to the cost of lifetime benefits claimed at 65

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