DeLauro: Sequestration hurts Social Security and therefore seniors

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes part of Shelton, is criticizing the impact of sequestration on the Social Security Administration (SSA).

DeLauro said sequestration “puts the basic functions of Social Security at risk” and the cuts come at a time when the agency — and many other government departments — have been “dealing with funding that has not kept up with inflation and demand over the years.”

Sequestration is the process of automatic spending cuts in certain government programs to try to lower the federal budget deficit.

Flat funding

Funding for the SSA over the past two fiscal years for routine operations has been essentially flat, according to DeLauro, the senior Democrat on the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

“In each of these years the funding level provided was below the president’s request by $924 million, or 8%,” she said. “These cuts have a real impact on our ability to serve our seniors, and to ensure they get the proper benefits they have earned.”

Budget cuts required by sequestration come at a time when Social Security retirement claims are increasing and a backlog continues in disability claim hearings, DeLauro said.

“The SSA is already understaffed, and these cuts will only make things worse,” she said. “Due to limited resources, the SSA has already taken measures such as curbing hiring and closing offices.”

Criticizes Republicans

DeLauro was critical of the role of Republicans — who control the U.S. House — in how much funding was being provided to the SSA.

She said while “the majority [Republicans] claims to want to save money by cutting out program waste and inefficiencies, their rhetoric is not matched by their action. Rather, it suggests that they would prefer to see Social Security falter in its basic responsibilities to Americans.”

DeLauro said Social Security is an important part of most people’s retirement planning.

“Social Security is the ultimate legislative expression of our nation’s shared values,” she said. “For over 75 years, it has tied generation to generation. It ensures that seniors have a secure retirement after decades of service to their communities. And it provides a safety net for those who can no longer work due to an accident or disability.”

Social Security lowers elderly poverty

The federal retirement entitlement program has uplifted the lives of many seniors, according to DeLauro. “As soon as the first Social Security check was issued, poverty among the elderly began to drop, from more than 30% of elderly Americans in the 1950s to 10% today,” she said.

“Two out of three seniors today rely on Social Security as the prime source of monthly income, including three-quarters of all elderly women,” she said.

DeLauro is from New Haven and represents the Third Congressional District. Shelton is divided between two congressional districts. U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, also a Democrat, represents the Fourth District that covers other parts of Shelton.