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Faith-Based Leaders Support Social Security

August 14, 2015 • By

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Last Updated: August 19, 2021

A collection of religious and faith-group symbols.In the depths of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt and Congress established Social Security, a program that has lifted millions of people out of poverty. Three years prior to its adoption, the Federal Council of Churches called for passage of social security legislation.

The Federal Council of Churches later became the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC). The NCC comprises 37 Christian denominations, including African-American churches, Orthodox churches, mainline Protestant churches, and peace churches. All told, there are more than 100,000 local congregations comprising some 35 million people in the NCC.

These churches supported the creation of Medicaid and Medicare and anti-poverty programs.  To this day, the NCC works to safeguard programs that help the poor and needy. This ministry begins at the local church level and is complemented by public policy advocacy at the national level.

This year, we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act. Certainly, members of my own family have been helped through Social Security. And, one of my college roommates was able to attend school because of the Social Security survivor benefits he received after his parents died in a tragic auto accident. Many of us have similar stories to tell.

Not everyone has the good fortune to retire with adequate savings. Social Security serves to care for those among us who need help.

The National Council of Churches believes government bears a responsibility for all of the citizens under its care. All faith traditions follow a similar directive to honor father and mother and to care for widows and orphans. Social Security is a modern-day manifestation of our commitment to care for the last, the least, and the lost.

The National Council of Churches joined the recent Faith Week of Action to commemorate the anniversary. We shared among our churches a toolkit that can assist congregations not only in honoring the success of Social Security but in raising awareness of the programs available through it.

Although I have contributed for many years to my retirement account, and I am grateful that the NCC does so, as well, I know I will depend on Social Security payments to keep me out of poverty in my retirement years.

Many people are unaware they are eligible for disability or survivor benefits, or they have no idea how much Social Security retirement income may be due to them in the future. Local churches often hold health fairs, job fairs, blood drives, food pounding Sundays, etc. I encourage congregations to make use of these types of events and invite representatives of the Social Security Administration to lead workshops at local churches.

There are some who view the passage of Social Security as a political act that has nothing to do with those in the faith community. I humbly disagree. Caring for those in need is a fundamental principle of all people of faith. This support need not take place solely through tithes and offerings to the church. We have a responsibility to care for the monies we contribute to the larger tax pool to ensure those in need are cared for.

NOTE: This is the first in an occasional series of guest blog posts from national faith leaders

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  1. Cathy C.

    Why is Social Security considered an ‘Entitlement’ Program when it is something you get only if you’ve paid into it…unlike other programs that really are entitlements such as public assistance, energy assistance etc… I’ve always been curious why SSA/SSD is called an entitlement.

    • Ella

      It’s NOT an entitlement… SSD & SSA. SSD, insurance you’ve paid into… SSA…. For retirement. Now, SSI is given to those who hasn’t worked long enough or paid enough into Social Security.
      Please pay close attention to your Wages & Earnings Statement. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked; if that has been altered, you’re up the river w/o a paddle.

      • Dee

        SSA stands for Social Security Administration. RSDI (or SSD) is Retirement Survivors Disability Insurance. SSI is Supplement Security Income. You can go to ssa.gov for the explanation of the programs.

    • Bobby H.

      It is only an entitlement to those who do not work for it. There are too many who are not citizens (and some who are) that have not earned the right for the benefits they receive. The government is buying the vote of the lazy and dishonest at the expense of our programs that were meant to help those who earned the right to the benefits. I believe that, if you are able, and do not work you do not eat.This Country was built on the backs of hard workers; not entitlements and politicians who have forgotten their roots.

  2. Brett

    the Social Security Fund is going broke mostly because the inflow from worker’s paychecks was used to help balance our Federal Budget for past 40 or 50 years or so. Politicians patted on their backs about reducing deficits every year with use of Social Security Fund thrown in. The politicans are not willing to raise enough taxes on the rich to leave Social Security Fund alone on its own for the future. We already spent it and we have trillions of dollars in Treasury bills and/or bonds to show for it.. We are owing ourselves.. This year or last year, the Social Security Fund is no longer enjoying surpluses that poiticians can use to help balance the budget or reduce deficit spending.. So this is the reason we probably cannot afford to spend as much on Pentagon toys or other worthy programs as well. Even with zero interest rates that we get from Treasury bills or bonds, we still cannot balance our spending.. it will get much tougher when the Fed start hiking interest rates.. I don’t see the reason why the Fed needs to do so unless we have adequate and reliable worker income in all to support the Social Security Fund as well as the rest of spending including pork barrels. Things are very different now. Very little cushion left to fall back on when hard times return next time. no wonder commodity prices are falling and producers are already losing money.. it is not working very well of lately.. as if sand is flowing through our hands ..

  3. D P.

    I agree with Dixie – SS is NOT an entitlement program like Medicaid – we have worked for it, paid into it, and deserve it… but there are catches to it anyway… this is not religion – it is the government with loopholes to not pay what the people of this country worked for! The baby boomer generation WORKED! So did the generations before us! The entitlement programs (Welfare, Food Stamps, AFDC, Medicaid) in this country are creating poverty, laziness, and dependence on the government for daily living. No religion or government drug tests for these programs – there are no boundaries when it comes to these programs – a female can have 5 children from 5 fathers, never get married, never work, be illegal here and qualify for EVERY GOVERNMENT HAND OUT PROGRAM THERE IS… and not pay taxes, and even get extra money for having illegitimate kids!
    Great! Social Security? It is well deserved by the people who actually worked for it! If religious organizations are so concerned, how about all the churches gather together and YOU take care of the Medicaid recipients, the illegals, the people who can work but won’t? You have the money! Apparently the government is running out! Not for Profit? Feed the children, EDUCATE the children… pay for drug testing for the recipients, and for teaching ENGLISH. Hey, maybe my taxes will go down if the churches start helping the government! I can’t affored insurance under Obamacare and the not for profit religious oranization I work for certainly gives us the minimum! So! Churchs of the US!!! Unite!

  4. Kay Z.

    I am thankful for the Social Security System and what it has meant to so many but I believe that the government has abused the system by allowing this money, that hard working American people have paid in, to be used/given to people that are not citizens. The government set up a part of our regular tax as medicaid for those that do not work and when they realized how much it was costing they decided to take away from social security, the working people’s retirement fund. Bad structure, bad investments, terrible leadership has and still is depleting this system and now it is being given to people that are not citizens nor have ever lived here nor worked here before. This is poor leadership and government application. I also take offense to the fact that now the government is trying to make Social Security sound like welfare, hand outs, to the very people that paid it. Shame on our politicians, especially the one/s that have agreed to change so many of our laws, regulations and terms/definitions that this country was founded on. This generation of politics/politicians has been and continue to be the downfall of this once great country.

    • Carolyngoings@gmail.com

      Agreed. Carolyn, Merced CA

    • J.A. S.

      Good points! Social Security and
      the U.S. Post Office are among
      the best citizen and others’ perks
      that truly make a positive difference
      in our daily lives. But as we are
      constantly reminded, there are
      politicians who have other ideas
      about the future of these benefits. JAS

  5. Georgia

    I agree with Dixie Turner and Valarie. I have worked hard since I was 15 and am now 63 and still working. It is not right to use our Social Security benefits to sponsor those who have not paid into it and other programs that do not belong to Social Security. It will not be there for us when we need it most because of this.

    • Carolyngoings@gmail.com

      Agreed. Carolyn, Merced

    • Ella

      I started working at the age of 15 also. Paid taxes on wages at 18 on. Invested additional withholdings at age 25 on. Became paralyzed at 50. Both I paid into. Many people are not aware that they should annually check their wages & earnings statement. If I hadn’t done that, I would be royally screwed! 13 years of trying to explain, fighting for my tax returns. That’s right, tax returns. Altering your w/e statement does and will affect your taxes. I worked 29 days & had already earned $13,000 for the month of January. It’s about having your personal information being changed by people we put our public trust in. I was born in 1955 and has collected my statement since 1973. Don’t leave your trust in anyone when it comes to your future & money.

      • Dee

        Ella, did you save any of the big money you made? That would have helped you out now.

  6. Bill

    Dixie: Your response made me think, and I have to ask, did your employer(s) all those years match your contributions? (the ‘matching’ is a payroll tax, which then becomes a government-supplied subsidy (benefit), which non-governmental employers can deduct on their tax returns as a business expense, i.e. another form of subsidy, but as you say, it’s not charity. It’s just another way our national ‘community’ supports its members e.g. you and me. You and I have contributed a lot over the decades, but we had significant ‘help’ from other entities, which we earned, but did not have to pay for, unless we were self-employed through it all. If I’m all wet, please tell me, and thank you for listening, and stay healthy!
    Bill in Virginia

    • Brad

      Even the part paid by employers could be considered as coming from the employee, because the employer considers the share they pay as part of their labor cost, which if paid directly to the employee instead would leave the employer in exactly the same position either way. But then, I am a little radical in my thought process. I do not believe there should be any business level taxes because those just get passed down to we the people as additional cost of products and services. All taxes should be born by the individual, how else do we know what taxes we are actually paying.

      Social Security is a good program, but Congress needs to address the looming shortfall that is about to beset the medicare/medicade system since they made it so easy to get disability in the past few years.

      • Victoria

        It is NOT EASY to get disability. It takes years and the help of attorneys. Just because you may apply for it does not mean you will get it.

  7. Kathleen P.

    I have worked 58 years and am still working. I paid social security, and medicare once in effect, all those years and it is NOT a gift from the government. If I could get interest earnings on the monies paid my withdrawal would be much greater.

    • Ella

      It does, in a big pot, you’re paying into SSA & SSD/SSI. If you don’t use it, someone will.

  8. Dixie T.

    I “humbly” disagree with parts of this article. It describes Social Security in the same terms as “Welfare” and “Medicaid” for the needy. Needy we may be if we are 65 or older, but make no mistake, I have worked and PAID for my Social Security Benefits for last 45 years. This is NOT a benefit from the government, this was started as, and remains -to those of us who remember WHY it was started- as a retirement program, not a CHARITY program. I would appreciate those in and not in the government to stop referring to it as such. It was paid for with hard earned wages!!!!!!!!!

    • Valarie s.

      I agree.my husband and I worked to the age of retirement. We paid into it.

      • J.A. S.

        I think we all can agree that
        Social Security underpins
        the health, safety and security
        of citizens who, whatever their
        contributions, gives dignity and alternatives to the aging citizens of this nation. JAS

      • Robert P.

        Maybe our SSA Benefits wouldn’t be in trouble of Congress and the SSA would stop allowing relatives, parents and grandparents who have never worked a day in their life or made any contributions to the SSA who collect benefits based on the sons and daughters earned incomes and contributions by them and employers. Mexico and the Philippines are worst offenders, so let’s stop this BS piece of legislation then the SSA funds would increase.

        • HunterSThompson

          You know that is impossible , right ? SSA doesn’t pay benefits just because you are related to someone who paid in. There is such a thing as parent benefits, but that’s not as you describe in your racist diatribe. Seems you don’t like “brown” people getting money and that’s messed up. how do you know they did not pay in ? you do know that many companies, US companies, have US factories oversees, and some are considered American companies, and do may SS tax. Do you know that it IS possible that they paid in, but must have over looked in your infinite, ignorant knowledge?

    • Thomas

      Amen, Amen

    • Carolyngoings@gmail.com

      Also, the trust funds should be put out of the reach of the Congress as a “piggy bank ” to balance their mis- management of the nation’s fiscal programs.

      The SS funds ought to be prudently invested. Congress has proved to be not a responsible borrower.
      Carolyn, Merced CA.

      • Fred

        You are very right !

    • Ella

      Exactly; but all that can change overnight. Mine did! Worked 43 years, the last 10 yrs. had a six figure income, was paralyzed in car accident and received only $700/mthly… SSI . 2 yrs. business law, Director for Communication company, yet my wages & earnings statement has been altered by a simple computer function; copy & paste! Retaliation is all I’ve received. So, when I hear how wonderful it is, I have to disagree. Being denied when paralyzed, although their doctors approved me is one thing, but having my W/E statement altered is a federal violation of the HIPPA laws, discrimination, fraud, civil & human rights violation. 13 years….. I’m afraid I can’t get that excited about SSA.

      • dr n.

        i believed your account as you stated. however, notarized statements from your former companies would prove your actual earnings much more reliably than any of those so-called manufactured statements for whatever reasons. just stating from my personal experiences.

      • HunterSThompson

        So you don’t have W-2’s proving your earnings ? they are obtainable if you don’t have them. 700/mo is more lie a person averaging around 15000/yr for that time. SSA does not care how much you get, they have nothing to gain or lose from it. If your employer paid the tax, your covered as far as SSA is concerned. If they forged your information than y ou need to report them to the IRS for tax fraud.

    • Stephen B.

      AMEN!!!! when my husband said he wanted to start SS at age 63, they told him they would withhold it if he continued to work and made more than $1000 a month… They act like it is their money. His father paid into it all his life and died after just a few years in retirement… where did all the money go that he paid in…

    • Robert

      Amen! Social Security and Medicare are not entitlement programs. Food stamps, welfare, medicaid and the like are. Difference is, we worked and paid into Social Security and Medicare and our employers matched those funds. The other programs are paid for in tax dollars collected from workers but we are not eligible for them because we work. Government must stop their deceitful descriptions of the Social Security and Medicare programs.

    • Bobby H.


    • Lori C.

      I agree. Social security is not an entitlement – WE PAID INTO IT OUR WHOLE WORKING LIVES. It was meant for social security and social security only. Until the government started robbing the social security fund to pay for other things. And how much was taken to fund Obamacare??? These things are criminal – the government needs to figure out a way to pay back every single penny taken out of the social security fund and used for other expenditures.

    • Karen

      I totally agree with this response! It is deceptive to describe Social Security in the same terms as “Welfare” and “Medicaid.” We need to stop describing it in those terms.

  9. Norm B.

    Hard work, savings and planning for the future are pillars of most faith based organizations. Social Security has been an earned right for wage earners and it will continue to be there for them.
    As a former SS employee, now retired, I know the public sees this as a valuable program well into the future.

    • Thomas

      If Congress act to safeguard Social Security to Personal Security (like TSP for the Federal Government Employees), it’s a grater Blessing for individual who retires.

    • Bill

      Amen, Norm, and THANK YOU for all of your hard, and often thankless work.
      It really helped my grandparents, my parents, and now my wife and I. The Social Security employees I have worked with over the years have been very helpful and I am grateful for them. Social Security has been and will continue to be a bulwark against social instability. We are all in this together.
      Bill in Virginia

    • Ella

      Former SSA employee….
      Then you understand what I mean by Wages & Earnings Statement?

  10. Soudi

    Thank you for your insight and your blog was very much appreciated.

    • Ella

      Faith-based Leaders will need to do a little bit more for SSA. Fighting 13 yrs. for resolution; SSA has unfavorable employees who doesn’t mind taking identities…….claimants identities!

      • Maria

        SSA has terrible employees who are incompetent remote workers and no one holds them accountable. Mr.LaValle in Utica NY.

    • Iqbal C.

      I agree hundred percent in the utility and importance of Social Security that helps largest majority of Americans to survive honorably in their golden years.

      I also feel very very strongly that the SSA employees in some offices are the most inefficient, dishonest, slobs and outright cruel to the applicants and recipients of the SSB. The most vivid example in my experience on several occasions is the outrageous behavior displayed during our visit to my local SSA Office at 75 Oak Street, Patchogue , NY 11772. The regional Baltimore office finally came to listen our request which was 100 % fair and routine matter and was disposed off as such.

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