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Unresolved debt ceiling debate puts US Social Security payments in peril

As the Biden administration and congressional leaders on Capitol Hill continue squabbling on whether or not to raise the cap on the nation’s debt, the federal government is edging towards the precipice of its historical first default on debt payment.

pg6Unless they reach common ground by the end of this month, retirees who rely on income from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are in immediate peril of a temporarily suspension in the disbursement of their monthly benefits.

This was the central theme addressed during the May 15 Zoom conference “Stop Social Security Cuts” sponsored by the Lake Chapala chapter of Democrats Abroad.  The online meeting geared for U.S. citizens residing in Mexico featured a presentation by Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, a non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of maintaining Social Security as a vehicle of social justice. He delved into the background of the SSA, political wrangling related to the debt ceiling, and guaranteeing the future of the Social Security safety net.

According to SSA data from December 2022, 51.3 million retired workers and their dependents receive Social Security benefits, with payments averaging  US$1,825 per month. Nearly nine out of ten people age 65 and older were on the SSA rolls. Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 37 percent of men and 42 percent of women receive at least half of their income from Social Security. For as many as 15 percent, benefits amount to at least 90 percent of their income.

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