The Social Security Administration has begun warning recipients that unless the debt ceiling is raised by Oct. 17, it might not be able to pay all benefits that are due after that date.
In consultation with the Treasury Department, Social Security is reportedly telling beneficiaries who ask: "Unlike a federal shutdown which has no impact on the payment of Social Security benefits, failure to raise the debt ceiling puts Social Security benefits at risk."
And on Monday, a Senate committee released a report accusing a retired West Virginia administrative law judge, David B. Daugherty, of colluding with a Kentucky attorney, Eric C. Conn, to approve more than 1,800 Social Security disability cases during a four-year period. The report alleges that Conn paid five doctors nearly $2 million to rubber-stamp the cases. Conn himself received more than $4.5 million in attorney fees directly from the Social Security Administration during that period.
Social Security has been investigating the case and placed Daugherty on administrative leave in 2011. He retired shortly thereafter. Conn is accused of shredding most of the evidence.
Nearly 11 million disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security disability benefits today, up from 8.3 million in 2011 and just 1.4 million in 1970. The average monthly worker benefit is $1,130. Social Security has blamed the increase on the rising number of aging baby boomers who are too young to receive retirement benefits.
All of this adds up to a retirement planning fiasco. No matter how you think it should be accomplished, getting the nation's economy and financial systems back on solid footing has to be a priority. Part of that job includes adopting reforms that will insure that Social Security can continue to pay its obligations.
How would you get that job done?