BELLEVILLE A handful of people in downtown Belleville held handwritten signs Thursday that said “Happy Birthday Social Security” and “Mike Bost, seniors are watching.”
They even had a cake to “celebrate” the 80th anniversary of the creation of Social Security is Friday.
The members of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans met with aides of U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, in his Belleville office to urge the first-term representative to not vote for cutting Social Security benefits.
Bost has voted for a bill that the Alliance for Retired Americans says would allow for future changes to the Social Security system to be fast-tracked any time the trust fund falls below 75-year solvency.
“It’s unfortunate that political stunts like these are being used to distort facts and deceive voters,” said Jim Forbes, Bost’s communications director. “The truth is that Mike wants to protect Social Security, and he voted to save Medicare Advantage and fix physician reimbursement rates so doctors can continue treating seniors on Medicare.”
Jeff Rains, president of the SOAR’s Greater Metro-East chapter, said he is worried about changes that would lead to an increased age of retirement, and cuts to benefits.
“We’re trying to influence the congressman to vote the right way, and what we think is the right way, which is to preserve the benefit which has lasted for 80 years,” Rains said.
He said there is a good way to help add more money to the Social Security trust fund.
“The obvious thing everybody has said is get rid of the cap so that everybody pays into Social Security,” Rains said.
Presently, a person’s income above $118,500 a year is not taxed for Social Security.
Rains said the U.S. government also should not reach into Social Security for other uses.
“It’s definitely not an entitlement program,” Rains said. “It’s a program that each of us paid into our entire working life, and it’s a program that has made retirement better for people. A lot of people depend on social security payments, and depend on it staying the way it is.”
Gerry Ogle, 61, of Granite City, who was a member of United Auto Workers, said she is on a pension, but plans to draw Social Security next year, or when she turns 63.
If she could get another job, she said she would probably wait until she turns 70 to collect benefits.
She has a colon disorder and a nerve disorder, which leads to tingling and numbness in her feet and gives her trouble walking up stairs.
To help keep the the government from dipping into the Social Security trust fund, Ogle suggested ending subsidies for companies that are making profits.
“That is one area that I feel they could use, because you’re giving something to somebody who doesn’t need assistance,” Ogle said. “That is what they need to look at.”