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US Debt Default Threatens the Oldest and Poorest Social Security Recipients

Tens of thousands of Americans who have some form of a disability, and are unable to work, consider taking retirement benefits early from Social Security every year. More than a quarter of residents in the nation have a disability. Thus, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs intend to deliver financial help to those individuals who cannot work. Though the wait times for the over 1 million people that anticipate their benefits application, are unfortunately usually denied.

Acting Social Security Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi warned earlier this year, in a letter to congressional leaders, that months-long delays in processing disability applications and phone assistance are likely to worsen in 2023, even as officials vow to improve service over time.

Darren Lutz, Social Security Administration spokesperson, acknowledged that wait times are “far too long,” citing inconsistent and insufficient funding, staffing shortages, and other challenges. The agency refused to make officials available for a phone call to discuss the issue in more detail.





Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays an average monthly benefit of $1,483 to those who suffered a disabling injury or illness and paid a federal tax that was deducted from their paychecks in the past.

In order to maximize the amount of money senior citizens receive from the federal government, it is recommend they wait as long as they can to tap into their Social Security benefits. Applying for early retirement, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), would get the individual $914 a month if they can prove they are older than 65, blind, or have a disabling medical condition.

For someone born after 1960, taking benefits at age 62 — the earliest age people are eligible — instead of 67 reduces each monthly payment by as much as 30% for the rest of a person’s life, said Richard Johnson, a senior fellow and the director of the Program on Retirement Policy at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization.




The Debilitated Federal Disability System

The underfunded federal disability system acknowledges that it is stymied by delays and dysfunction. Applicants often must face a lengthy appeals process, to which hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer, such as The Lowery Law Group, is necessary to help streamline the process.

Another reason to hire a disability lawyer is because Social Security agents tend to disregard the financial downside of taking retirement benefits prematurely. People are feeling stuck living with little money while they wait out or agree to considerably lower payment amounts for the remainder of their life.

And now, those receiving Social Security could see interruptions in their payments and need to be prepared in case this happens in the near future. U.S. debt default is increasing. Therefore, Social Security advocates warn benefit recipients to be ready for this possibility to occur, which could leave some of the most vulnerable Americans at risk.

Congress and the White House have yet to reach an agreement on the path forward, all the while, negotiations around whether the nation’s ability to borrow money should be expanded have been ongoing.

Ed Mills, Washington policy analyst at Raymond James, previously told CNBC.com “if there is a scenario where seniors are not getting their Social Security checks, there would be a near immediate resolution of this fight.”

Director of government relations and policy for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Dan Adcock said there is a “good chance” that in the event of a default, millions of Americans’ benefits would be disrupted. “Seniors should be prepared if they’re financially able,” Adcock said, adding they should consider putting off discretionary purchases “so they have enough to tide them over.”

But what happens when those millions of beneficiaries have no financial room to maneuver?  About 40% of Social Security recipients, which include Americans who are disabled and those who are widowed, receive 90% of their income from the safety net program, adds Adcock. That equates to nearly 27 million people.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has warned that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other payments “may not be made on time and in full” without a debt limit increase. “Even if all we’re talking about is a delay, you could end up with significant hardship on a large number of people,” said Maria Freese, senior legislative representative at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Americans remain waiting patiently for the news of what our U.S. Treasury and government is capable of handling. Washington has yet to officially default against its financial obligations up against the debt ceiling, but there is much debate as to Social Security benefits our people rely on.


Lowery Law Group is your legal support in South Carolina. We provide assistance to those with disabilities. Whether their rights have been violated or denied a service or claim due to their disability, Lowery Law is there to help you through the complicated Social Security Disability process.

Contact Lowery Law Group at info@lowerylegal.com or call (843) 991-0733. There is no fee for a free consultation regarding your claim. Lowery Law Group is experienced in handling cases in South Carolina as well as Georgia.