There was no room for symbols for congestive heart failure, severe pain from cancer, and so on. Lack of a limp does not equal lack of a handicap.
1) Being able to ride a motorcycle is not proof that a person is not disabled. A person who has schizophrenia could ride a motorcycle. A person who is mentally retarded could ride a motorcycle. Even some people with a disabling medical/physical condition could ride a motorcycle now and then, if they've taken painkillers (probably against doctor's orders, though, since the painkillers might make this unsafe).
2) OK, look into why some judges readily grant disability and some don't. But how about also letting the psychologists and neuropsychologists who evaluate applicants use specialized tests that can weed out fakers from non-fakers? Right now, Disability Determination rules forbid this. Their rationale is that some genuinely disabled people fake extra symptoms out of fear that their disability won't be noticed by the person testing them. But there could be a mechanism for them to appeal and be re-tested.
3) Along with preventing our neighbor from raking in maybe $250,000 over 30 or 40 years, let's also worker harder to remove special tax breaks for billionaires, go after their offshore accounts that duck taxes altogether, and target corporations that pay ZERO taxes while sending America's jobs overseas. We lose trillions of dollars per year to scams by the 1%.
Calculating Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) using a chained consumer price index (CPI) would cut benefits the most for the oldest Americans—those who are least able to afford it. The greatest impact of the COLA cut will be on the oldest Americans.
The chained CPI would cut one full month’s income from a 92-year-old beneficiary’s annual Social Security benefits. That’s because the impact of the chained CPI on benefits increases significantly over time. The oldest can least afford a COLA cut. Americans in their 80s and 90s generally have less income, fewer financial assets, and are more dependent on Social Security than younger beneficiaries. They face increasing out-of-pocket medical costs and are at greatest risk of poverty.
The poorest are hit the hardest. The chained CPI will cut living standards most deeply for the poorest households, which tend to rely on Social Security for all or most of their income. Any cut to Social Security benefits is a cut to their total income. Because chained CPI benefit reductions would apply equally to both high- and low-income beneficiaries, the poorest will lose the largest share of income.
Women lose more than men. Women tend to live longer than men and make up a larger share of the population as it ages. They also tend to have lower incomes, are more dependent on Social Security, and are more at risk of falling into poverty.
Social Security benefits are modest. In 2010, the average annual benefit was about $15,000 for men age 80 and older and about $13,000 for women. The oldest Americans count on Social Security the most. One-third (33.9 percent) of all beneficiaries—and nearly four in ten (38 percent) women beneficiaries—age 80 and older rely on Social Security for nearly all of their family income (90 percent or more). That compares to only 19 percent of beneficiaries age 65 to 69.
Income falls as Americans age. In 2010, half of married couples and single people ages 65–69 had income of $37,200 or less. By age 80 and older, half had income less than $19,500. Poverty rates are highest for the oldest old. In 2011, according to the official poverty measure, Americans age 85 and older were 50 percent more likely to be in poverty than those age 65–69 (11.5 percent vs. 7.5 percent).
Nearly one in six older Americans lives in poverty.
Under an updated measure of poverty that takes health care costs into account and is endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, 15.1 percent of Americans age 65 and older were in poverty in 2011. Almost 19 percent of Americans age 80 and older are in poverty under this updated measure.
Older Americans carry growing debt. Over the past 20 years, Americans age 75+ had a larger increase in average debt than any other age group. From 1989 to 2010, average total debt for those age 75+ increased 529 percent. Average mortgage debt increased by 812 percent and mean credit card debt increased by 813 percent.
Few older families have retirement savings. In 2010, two out of three families headed by a person age 75 or older had no money in retirement savings accounts. Half of those with savings had less than $54,000.
Instead of pursuing this cruel plan, here are alternatives:
1) End special tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Their promise to create jobs if only we did this has turned out to be a lie.
2) Upper-income people live longer than the rest of us. Adjust the formula for determining Social Security benefits to reflect this.
3) Raise the level of wages subject to the Social Security payroll tax, so it will reflect the income gains of top earners over the past several decades. Many in the top 5% have seen their incomes quadruple, while the rest of us have seen our income stagnate or drop.