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Email Henry Platt
Email L. Henry Platt, Jr.
  Henry Platt


Recently, the Dark Horse received an open plea to assuage the pain and frustration of an 86 year old woman. She could not understand why she could only collect $786 in Social Security benefits while a refugee just twenty years in the United States was receiving more than $2600 each month.

The answer which follows is meant to begin to explain some frequently baffling rules, regulations, procedures and laws covering this situation. A three day conference would likely not cover everything, but it is hoped that the answer which follows will provide some understanding of the many problems in helping those in need.

The cry of this letter is compelling, but certain facts are omitted:

  1. Americans born in 1924 are called "notch babies" and have been shortchanged in Social Security benefits for years. As their numbers dwindle, Congress has been increasingly indolent in addressing the plight of these "notch babies" and will probably never be motivated to address this problem of such a small and decreasing number of voters.
  2. Social Security Benefits are paid based on earnings and taxes paid on these earnings. In 1960 the most a person could pay was 3% of $4,800. Under President Lyndon Johnson the $4,800 increased to $7,200, and under Nixon and Ford the taxable limit increased to over $14,000. Multiply this times seven and you get to today's neighborhood.
  3. When a person applies for Social Security Benefits, the amount of benefits is determined by the highest earn[ngs in recent (maybe fifteen) years. Anyone who slows down to work only part time for the last ten years of his career might severely reduce his benefits at retirement.
  4. This man gets benefits in excess of $15,000 per year, but his monthly distribution is less than $900 after Medicare and Federal Income Taxes are deducted.
  5. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the law creating Social Security in 1935, he said that this was to help Americans in old age. He did not say that every American would live in opulence.
  6. Some people supplement their income with unreported income or regular unreported gifts.
  7. Life is not always fair! But anyone with a passion and writing ability can send a letter. A single letter inspired the opportunity for billions of dollars to be earned. A single letter made hitchhiking legal in Connecticut. A single letter ended the propensity of young men to rip-up their draft cards. A single letter protected thousands of people from unreasonable increases in rent.
  8. Even God was disappointed by Adam and Eve.

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© L. Henry Platt, Jr.