published Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

New look at entitlements — and more letters to the editors

New look at entitlements

As a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga who has taken a couple of economics courses, I understand the basics of how an economy works and the types of things that have dramatic effects on it, especially during a recession.

The Times Free Press wrote about a Nobel laureate (Oct. 8) who came to UTC to talk to students about a different option to cutting entitlements to fix the looming debt our generation will have to eventually pay for.

His suggestions are spot on. Taking benefits away from senior citizens who have relied on that income after retirement their whole lifetime is just cruel. Making every working person pay for a program they won’t need in the future, however, doesn’t help anyone — it just gives people with plenty of retirement extra money that they really don’t need and could be used to help other Americans who need it most.

I’m proud that my school invited this speaker to enlighten students about other options to our country’s debt than the typical cut-and-dried solutions the major parties try to bombard us with every day.

EMILY GURCHIEK


One-sided report on Social Security

I read with interest the Associated Press story that ran in Monday’s edition of the Times Free Press concerning fraud in the Social Security disability program. Although the article highlighted fraud that allegedly occurred in one hearing office in West Virginia between a Social Security judge and an attorney, it followed the airing of a “60 Minutes” episode that attacked disability recipients as cheaters. The “60 Minutes” episode has been universally condemned as an egregious example of one-sided, biased and anecdote-based reporting primarily based on the views of a far-right senator who is best known as a denier of global warming.

The truth is that it is extremely difficult to get Social Security disability benefits. Most disability applicants are denied. Fewer than four in 10 are approved, even after all stages of appeal. That’s why applicants hire attorneys skilled in social security disability law. It is unfortunate that some in the system are dishonest, but disability is a large program which means there will be some fraud. While some applicants no doubt try to game the system, as a former Social Security hearing office chief judge in Chattanooga, I know that the vast majority of disability applicants are hard- working people who paid into Social Security and can no longer work. They are not slackers or lazy people.

RICHARD GORDON, general counsel, Dale Buchanan & Associates

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