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Social Security sweats bullets

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

The Social Security retirement topic burning up the Internet today is a "Request for Quote" on the website, where the U.S. government posts opportunities for the private industry to do business with it.

The fuss is about a July request from the Social Security Administration to purchase 174,000 ".357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition."

That's a lot of bullets -- and it has every conspiracy theorist with a keyboard speculating that Social Security offices are gearing up to gun down senior citizens who storm the doors after Social Security puts them on hold for 30 minutes.

The Sturm und Drang has been so emotional that the administration felt compelled to post a defense on its new consumer blog, headlined "Social Security's OIG responds to concerns over ammunition procurement."

In government speak, OIG stands for Office of the Inspector General. In its initial explanation of the RFQ on Aug. 13, Social Security said:

In 2010, a 66-year-old man with a shotgun entered the Federal Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas and opened fire in the crowded lobby, killing two people and injuring another. His fury was with SSA and the loss of his California state supplement of $317 per month when he moved to Nevada. He had sued the agency and lost.

The post went on to explain the SSA offices were getting a lot of traffic due to increased disability claims, and a corresponding increase in threats against SSA employees. Altogether SSA received 1,033 allegations pertaining to employee safety.

That post just fueled the fire. So, three days later on Aug. 16, Social Security posted:

We have criminal investigators -- aka special agents -- who are responsible for investigating violations of the laws that govern Social Security's programs. Currently, about 230 special agents work in 66 offices across the United States. Just like FBI or NCIS agents, our investigators have full law enforcement authority, including executing search warrants and making arrests. Our special agents need to be armed and trained appropriately. They not only investigate allegations of Social Security fraud, but they also are called to respond to threats against Social Security offices, employees, and customers.

Finally, on Aug. 31, the SSA -- still obviously feeling falsely accused -- posted:

Some comments and media reports suggest a degree of skepticism about the role of an OIG Special Agent, and we thought we'd address that here, as part of this dialogue. Several comments, and even Jay Leno's monologue, mentioned investigating seniors, and the limited danger that might present. The point is well-taken, but off the mark. Only about 15 percent of our investigations involve SSA's retirement programs, while almost 80 percent involve the disability programs. People who defraud these programs come in all ages, and none of them wants to be arrested.

I don't think Social Security's gotten this right yet. I'm waiting for the next explanation. In the meantime, none of this is making me feel like my retirement planning is any more secure.

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November 01, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Most people on Disability are lazy and can do some type of work and furthermore dont want their medical condition to improve because then they would lose their check

Johnathan Huntington
November 01, 2012 at 12:23 am

In response to mike charnock: Where pray tale does he think we can get 3 Trillion dollars which is only a drop in the bucket to how much social security, and medicare combined are underfunded. There is no way to squeeze that much wealth out of the economy and not get a big recession. But wait, President Obama thinks more taxes especially for the so called "rich" will somehow fix the economy and maybe even balance the budget. It would fail miserably. The only way to pay for the massive social welfare programs is to have a growing and expanding economy. You will never achieve that with more taxes and more government regulation. President Obama economic policies are a failure but liberals and some others wrongly believe that more of his failed policies will do better next time.

Johnathan Huntington
November 01, 2012 at 12:10 am

The lack of social security when it collapses under the weight of liberal false promises and funded by a Pyramid scheme is going to fuel plenty of angry people who won't get what they think they deserve. Many liberals think government is a promise of forever-flowing handouts and free health care. Never-mind that it will bankrupt the US government. There solution of taxing the "rich" will fail because the "rich" don't have enough wealth well to grab to float 50 and 100 trillion in underfunded promised benefits. The average voter doesn't know what is coming but I do.

mike charnock
October 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm

one thing that would help is if the govt. would pay back the 3trillion dollars it owes the trust fund.

October 28, 2012 at 9:20 am

Social Security purchased thousands of hollow point bullets because they know a fall is coming and the public is mad as hell. We know our government has gambled with our lives and cheated us.
However their are a lot of people on SSI and we all know it, that plaid crazy or dumb in order to get it. All they need to do is drug test everyone that is on it monthly and randomly. This I estimate will get rid of one quarter of the it. Then they need to go case by case and see if some of them can be dumped because they are really not disabled. People on food stamps need to be tested randomly also. No matter how old they are.

David Troutman
October 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I know someone who is no more disabled than most people working, he's all over the state doing whatever he pleases and has taken a trip out west for over a week. Ive known him for at least ten years, he buys new thousands of dollars guns, new car, new tractor and works and bales hay at least 3 tiems a year. He goes to the VA and was getting a lot of pain medication and selling it off. He was sent to a pain specialist at the VA and the meds didnt show up in his system but pot did. They cut him off from receiving meds but he's getting them somewhere else. He goes all over buying peoples pain meds and reselling them. Makes me so mad I could chew nails. He now gets more than what he made when he worked off SSN disability. Cant report this on their website the way it is, not sure if I would be annonymous or not and this person would be dangerous. SSN has a stupid way of reporting this so most people wouldnt bother and would be more concerned about their safety. I reported this to a cop way out of this county but who knows if they will do anything about it or not. There needs to be more investigators in each state. Welfare and medicaid is the same way if not worse. They receive free everything and live off the taxpayer simply because they dont use a condom and have several young kids, the more kids the more money. No wonder the taxpayer is over consumed with paying for this.

Joe Zhy
October 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I used to work at the SSA complex in Woodlawn, Md., in the 1970s. We had a guard there that had not too long before got out of the Army after he was rotated back from Vietnam. He had a look on his face that even frightened us employees of SSA. As he looked through those blue shaded glasses of his, he just look like the type to shoot first and ask questions later. And to my surprise, one day he was talking about doing just that if anyone tried anything. Needless to say, I tried to avoid his station as much as possible if I had to leave my office to go to another part of the complex. He was weird, to say the least.

October 04, 2012 at 5:25 pm

It is sad when people are forced to fight for the benefits which they are entitled to....the entire government system is so very badly broken....perhaps those in charge should have left the monies alone in the first place so it would be available for what it was collected for to begin one ever expected the country to get into such a fix where they should have all along saved for a rainy day instead of robbing PETER TO PAY PAUL effect with money that they should NOT have messed with to begin is a sad situation all around....and will only get worse as time goes on....

September 08, 2012 at 3:00 am

God Bless you Audrey. Call center work is tough, and I can only imagine that working for SSA includes dealing with the bottom of society trying the lie and scam a free meal from the tax payer. Keep up the good work on trying to stamp out fraud and cheaters so that we still have social securty for those who've earned it!

September 06, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I happen to work for SSA. I work in a large call center and take numerous calls daily from individuals across the nation that are either receiving benefits, applying for them or inquiring about future benefits. I have taken my share of phone calls where threats are made against SSA employees and others. Sometimes callers threaten to go into their SSA local office to cause harm. Sometimes they threaten the President. Some are committing fraud and surely they don't want to get caught. To think that SSA OIG officers do not need to arm themselves when they are investigating and/or arresting an individual is ignorant, naive and down right dangerous.