Forced Annuitization and the Grim Realities of Racial Health Disparities
“You just get out what they put in/But they never put in enough” —Stephen Merritt, The Magnetic Fields
Social Security redistributes money from African-Americans to white Americans. This claim might sound outrageous to those with prejudiced views of public benefits and those who understand the effects of Social Security’s progressive benefits formula, but it nonetheless is true, according to a 2013 paper by C Eugene Steurle, Karen E. Smith, and Caleb Quakenbush of the Urban Institute.
The SSI Resource Limit and Home Ownership Exclusion
Ms. Smith, a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient, came to me with a writ of restitution. That meant that her landlord would soon show up at her door with Federal Marshalls and a moving crew to throw her and her stuff out on the street.
February 25, 2015 by BFC in Social Services
Darlene is a 60-year-old DC resident who came to Bread for the City to seek assistance applying for Social Security Disability Benefits through BFC’s SOAR program.* With help from case workers in our Social Services department, Darlene applied for and received her benefits within a few months.
Social Security disability benefits have made a significant difference in Darlene’s life as she grows older – allowing her to pay rent and utilities in her apartment. Darlene’s experience is not a rare case – out of SSDI beneficiaries across the country, seven in ten are age 50 and older, and three in ten are 60 and older. The average monthly payment of SSDI benefits (benefits based on work history) is $1,017.30, and for many recipients, disability benefits constitute their only income and they are already living close to or below the poverty line.
Recently,there has been political debate on how to handle the long term preservation of these funds. Some advocates fear that proposed measures in Congress could result in decreased benefits for recipients.
The human service world is full of gatekeepers – individuals or organizations that control access to resources. Gatekeepers manifest in countless ways: they can look like staff who determine eligibility criteria, place people on wait lists, or restrict days and hours that someone can access services.
We recognize that some of this is unavoidable and at times important. We are all working with limited resources that make structure and guidelines necessary. However, for individuals using services, the gates can feel restrictive, endless, and oppressive. We have been thinking about the role that social service providers inadvertently play in perpetuating these systems of oppression. We think that folks accessing services deserve better. We think that as providers, we have a responsibility to do better.
Here at Bread for the City we describe ourselves as providing holistic care. This means comprehensive wrap-around services that help individuals achieve and maintain stability across many areas of their lives.
Having difficulty figuring out how to apply for food stamps? Stop by Social Services – we’ll go over the application with you and make sure your family gets groceries from our food pantry & garden. Need legal help to apply for child support? Legal intakes are every Monday afternoon. Want a medical home where you can care for your physical and mental health? Become a patient with our medical clinic and go to a free yoga class while you’re here!