TOPIC: Social Security Administration

Illegal immigration and WI dairy farms

Georgia Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a critical — and flawed — piece Saturday on E-Verify, the joint Dept. of Homeland of Security/Social Security Administration program that makes employers check the citizenship status of their workers. Right now, E-Verify is voluntary — but new legislation would make it mandatory. Pabst implies this would be bad for Wisconsin dairy farmers, the vast majority of of whom employ illegal immigrants. But it could have the positive effect of curbing the exploitation of these workers. (more…)

Blaming public employees for getting what we all want

Gutting the pensions of public employees has become something of an Internet meme in California, where tired talking points about coddled public sector employees appear in comments following almost every story about the state’s budget problems. Meanwhile, John Fensterwald of Thoughts On Public Education writes that reeling in benefits to public employees — especially teachers — may prove more complicated and save less money than those demanding reform imagine. (more…)

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

A signature accomplishment of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was a law that would reduce the benefit of teacher pensions by $200 billion over the next 25 years. However, Chris Wetterich of Gatehouse News Services relays a report prepared for the Illinois state government that shows state pension relief is a zero-sum game. (more…)

Social Security Administration Overwhelmed by Disability Claims

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Monifa Thomas reports that some applicants for Social Security disability benefits must wait more than a year to find out if they qualify. (more…)

Don’t Worry About Social Security

There are many examples of myopic tax and spending policies that have escalated the national debt. Social Security isn’t one of them. (more…)


Barack Obama wants to make a new effort to "police social programs" like the Labor Dept.’s unemployment benefits and the Social Security Administration’s disability claims, reports Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal. Obama’s proposal — for more than $13 billion over the next five years in oversight money to police programs that serve the poor and disabled — coincides with his proposal to close tax havens on super-rich companies. An army of lobbyists and members of Congress seem determined to prevent this check on the rich. Shockingly, a plan to watch how money is spent on the poor has received no immediate backlash.-MB


Social security numbers are easily available on line through a number of government agency web sites around the country, writes Bill Brubaker of the Washington Post.  A host of government sites, as well as easily-accessible public records, contain individuals’ social security numbers, a fact that may be sparking the more than 8 million cases of identity theft recorded in the U.S. each year.  Read Bill Brubaker here.


The question isn’t whether government is too big — it’s about whether government meets the needs of citizens.  The Social Security Administration now faces a backlog of cases from people with chronic illnesses or disabilities that prevent them from working.  The backlog is now at three-quarters of a million cases and some applicants have been evicted while awaiting financial support.  Budget increases to hire more case review judges are in limbo.  Eric Eckholm reports on this issue for the New York Times.

“If it ain’t broke, break it”: Charlie Peters on the Slow Death of the Social Security Administration

One bureaucracy that has a splendid record of efficiency has been put on a near-starvation diet by the Bush administration.  "Staffing at the Social Security Administration will soon be at its lowest level since 1974," reports the Washington Post’s Stephen Barr.  "The number of disability claims waiting for hearing decisions is at an all-time high."

The agency’s head, Michael J. Astrue, says "that inadequate funding since 2001 is largely to blame for staffing and workflow problems."  Was the Bush gang trying to create problems with the present Social Security system to gain support for its privatization proposals?

(Originally printed in The Washington Monthly September 2007 issue.  Used by permission.)