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  • Social Security Pays Benefits to Millionaires' Children

    Many aspects of Social Security date back to 1939 and reflect an America that is long gone. One of these pays Social Security benefits to minor children—even if the parents are millionaires.

    Case in point: the Social Security checks sent to the three younger children of Representative Pete Stark (D–CA). Stark is 80 years old, earns $174,000 a year as a Member of Congress, and has a personal fortune of about $27 million. Yet his kids get and will continue to get their government checks until they reach their 18th birthdays.

    Stark is doing nothing illegal or untoward—that is just the way today’s Social Security works. Benefits for children and spouses were created back in 1939, when in most families, only the husband was employed. When he stopped work, the family had no more income other than a small Social Security check. Children’s benefits were intended to allow them to stay in school rather than go to work to support the family. No one expected these benefits to go to a millionaire’s kids.

    It is well past time to thoroughly reform Social Security to meet the realities of the 21st century. It has been almost 30 years—a generation—since Congress last reviewed Social Security in 1983. In an era of trillion-dollar annual budget deficits and a Social Security program facing both $300 billion annual cash flow deficits in a few years and 25 percent benefit cuts thereafter, we just cannot afford using scarce resources to pay benefits to the very wealthy.

    This is but one problem with the aging Social Security program. Another is that millions of low-income Americans have a Social Security benefit that is below the poverty line after working and paying taxes for the necessary 35 years.

    A program that pays benefits to millionaire’s kids and pays too little to low-income seniors is a program with deep-seated problems. And there are many more, so fixing Social Security should entail a fundamental overhaul.

    The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream plan provides such a reform. Under this plan, everyone would be insured by Social Security against retirement poverty. Almost everyone would receive benefits, and benefits would be far more generous than those that are currently provided—especially for low-income seniors. However, those with very high incomes after they reach eligibility age would see their benefits reduced or ended. If their circumstances changed for the worse, then benefits would re-start.

    Under Saving the American Dream, scarce resources would be reserved for those who really need them, a category that does not include millionaires’ children. Stark would just have to get by with his $27 million.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    29 Responses to Social Security Pays Benefits to Millionaires' Children

    1. George says:

      I agree that SS needs a severe overhaul. As with the myriad ways one can transgress the law…time for a sincere house cleaning….but…
      I was more surprised at Stark @ 80 having children under 18?
      Damn.

    2. Laury Adams says:

      Easily recognizable people whose children and wives are eligible for Social Security checks are Warren Beatty and Larry King. And it should remembered these fellows only contributed a percent of their salaries up the contribution base which was lower than the current base of $110,100.

    3. Bobbie says:

      Government control has proven nothing but mismanagement at the cost of the truly needy AND TAX PAYERS. Can't trust anything in government control. Social security was strictly for the NEEDY elderly (left to assume by the policies of government) Americans believed now wrongfully misinformed!

      I know people at various incomes and the only rich greedy, selfish ones I know personally are the ones making millions off the backs of Americans working in government not for America but for special interests, eliminating adaptability, making freedom and liberty at risk and high costs! Every single one, democrat! And the rich selfish greedy not working in government, are on the side of government voting for democrats, socialism, communism, anti freedom, belittling us every step of the way. The rich without dignity are outrageous and by observation alone, democrat!

      "duh, I got an idea? Raise taxes on all the ones who make an honest living… duh, lets get to work degrading the public, narrowing their thought process so they can't adapt without government dependency, it's the least we can do for more tax increases and hikes! We're democrats! DUH! "

      Government control has become beneath the average standards of America(ns) at thieving costs. Government is non productive. Reform government promises to reflect their promises and correct the fraud, corruption, waste incompetence and ignorance and HOLD ACCOUNTABLE. Then reform to remove ASAP, everywhere feds and democrats are unconstitutional!

    4. frushford says:

      The article is provocative, but not informative. What provision provides the money? How does it work? When was the provision added that you did not have to be dead? Why was that change made? Who sponsored change and who was president?

      How many children of millionaires get social security benefits?

      It would seem some more facts would give this posting a bit more bite.

    5. Social Security is not a welfare program but a form of social insurance. There is no reason why Pete Stark's children shouldn't get their payments in the same way Paul Ryan got his after his father's death (the Ryans weren't millionaires, but young Paul didn't need the money, as we have all read, and was able to save it for a more expensive college than he could otherwise have aspired to). All paid their premiums. But once you start means testing it as AHS proposes it starts looking like charity, and that is the top step of the slippery slope that leads to getting rid of it altogether.

      • Jaxin says:

        As you said, Social Security is (or should be) a form of social insurance. Insurance is only paid to those who can prove a need (by filing a claim and dealing with an adjuster), which is the same type of process you would face with means testing. Would you even attempt to write a letter to the insurance company you paid your homeowners premiums to for 25 years asking them to return the premiums because you never filed any claims? Well, you might, but most people know that is an absurd notion, which is the same notion as paying someone making millions of dollars a year their full social security benefit payments just because they paid into the system! Canada has their head screwed on right in regard to this matter, as a person there making over $150,000 per year gets no retirement payments at all (unless they later fall on hard times, in which case it is there for use). They, by the way, have no budget crisis like we morons in the US do!

    6. Colo Jim says:

      So just how did his children qualify for SS payments? The article admits it is legal, he has paid into SS based on his income. So what is the deal?

      It almost sounds like like the Obama class envy BS.

      • Jeanne Stotler says:

        When you retire and have children under 18 or still in HS, they get a check, there are many who retire on disability and they do need that money, on regular retirement, I think should be based on need and assets. Don't forget these people, even though rich, did pay the maximum every year they worked, problem is those who made over a certain amount got no deduction after hitting that cap, and if they did, it would mean they would collect more in benefits.

    7. william says:

      Reform makes too much sense so it's unlikely to happen.. Means and needs should be the nr 1 issue. If ya have the means, ya don't have the needs. If ya stop to think about it… SSI is an insurance policy against becoming destitute. So if ya have car insurance and don't have an accident, should you get your premiums returned to you?

    8. LBJ's SSA theft says:

      I am one of the thousands whose EARNED Social Security Administration (SSA) benefit was decimated by LBJ's Great society boondoggle giving SSA funds to freeloaders who either refused to contribute to the SSA program or who illegally avoided the payroll deductions that most of us were REQUIRED to have taken from our wages. LBJ created a program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that gave SSA funds to those who had limited income and to finance this he took funds from the SSA and changed the way that SSA benefits were calculated for those of us Who had earned a government pension and had qualified for SSA prior to joining the Civil Service program. The problem comes in that LBJ took so much from the promised SSA benefit that the EARNED SSA benefit plus the EARNED Civil Service pension often is less than the benefit GIVEN to SSI recipients who have not contributed to SSA in the least. It is not unusual for a person who has some contributions to SSA to deny the contributions and take the SSI dole because it is more money than if they took the pension they actually earned.

      • O2BMe says:

        Social Security has been manipulated by more than LBJ. It was supposed to be in a trust fund but was dumped into the general fund and spent. There are other ways the money has been spent besides SSI. SSI should have been a separate program and not taken out of SSA. The same applies to Medicare, the money should never been taken out of Medicare to supplement Medicaid. My uncle said when Social Security and Medicare went in that they were just another tax. Never trust a politician to keep a promise.

    9. mamsvol says:

      If Stark has made Social Security withholding payments on his income as others do, why should he be denied the benefits? He has just as much right to his account as anyone else. With his affluence, it would be "gentlemanly" to forgo the money but he's certainly within his rights to accept it.

    10. Jan says:

      Where is pride in being self-supporting? This man sucked off the taxpayers with a high salary and now a high retirement, but thinks it is okay for his kids to suck off SS? Have some pride and consideration for the people you screwed while you were in Congress and take them off the dole. Surely, Stark, you can afford to support your kids.

    11. PATSY says:

      we sure as hell dont knne higher gas prices and unions dont need to have ceiling removed., they get than enough now. and social secutiry needs to be revamp because millionaires kids dont need to get checks from social security. and we need to repeal OBAMACARE. SOON.

    12. Colleen says:

      There is no doubt that social security and medicare must be reformed as they are unsustainable under the current system. I believe that their has to be an adjustement based on need, although I admit, I really hate saying that as I don't think any class should be targeted and set aside. Unfortunately, we are going to have to consider that the uber-rich must be treated somewhat differently in this case for our country's sake. So, rather than increasing their tax rate, we decrease their "entitlements". Perhaps that is more equitable. BTW, I have never thought that SS and Med, which we all pay in to, should be lumped together as "entitlements" with welfare and food stamps. Name change required. Anyway, I suggest we have Paul Ryan take a look at it.

    13. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Millionaires' children don't need Social Security.

    14. Brad Harris says:

      I do not understand this article. How are his kids receiving SS if he is a member of Congress making that much money and has that much wealth. This article did not explain well how the kids came to be drawing SS. Was he out of work and that is when they started to draw the SS?

      • Bobbie says:

        You're first question is easy. Democrats have been helping themselves off the tax payers without discipline. Changing the rules at will with no consideration to whom they effect.This public servant millionaire is family and for whatever the children were taking from the government handout bureau, he can be a man and provide for them to avoid taking from the truly needy who doesn't have any or in this case government tax funded millionaire ties.

        The rich whom also are required ss tax and the such but are well off not to need it is how redistribution has been a part of this country's past until ss became open to all, even those who didn't pay a dime, initiated under democrat rules. Democrats are simply greedy, disingenuous people in a political party who enjoy helping people who are convinced by dems they need help but dems do it to exploit and belittle and at their unethical ability to cause misery to others.

        Republicans respect humanity, democrats subject humanity and use the bible to call it good.

    15. Todd says:

      Agreed. It is time to reform Social Security. But do not demonize people who are following the rules – even if they are Democrats. Like Medicare, the reform of Social Security must be for future beneficiaries and payments. People who have paid into the system deserve what was promised as they paid into that system. We cannot pull the rug out from under people – even millionaire's children- who are following the rules, no matter what political party they are part of.

    16. Jeanne Stotler says:

      This does not alarm me as much as illegals coming here and getting SSI and Soc. sec. and any other FREE money they can. They work only for cash, do not pay taxes and live better than alolot of poor Americans

    17. Brad says:

      Means testing Social Security system is the perfect way to erode support for a great government program, which is the overall mission of the Heritage Foundation. Heritage knows that if benefits don't come to weatlhy people who have paid into the program, they won't support it. And if the wealthy don't support something in this country, it will eventually die. No one should think for a moment that, as a propaganda arm of the Republican Party, the Heritage Foundation gives a damn about low income people. It doesn't. If it did, it would have supported the Affordable Care Act and raising the earnings cap for FICA taxes, so that people earning over $110,100 paid the same rate as people who make less.

    18. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      Just as Romney-Ryan will have a mandate to reform Medicare, since they are promising to do so, so too will they have a mandate to reform SS if they promise to do so. Reforming two entitlement programs in one term may be wishful thinking though. They may have to spend all of their political capital just to reform Medicare because the statists will fight them tooth and nail and die on the hill to thwart any attempt to roll-back big government and save that vote-buying/ensuring bargaining chip.

    19. CforUS says:

      A perfect example of why there should be a means test when issuing Social Security benefits. After all the second word is "Security". It should be there if you need it, not before. If the millionaire's children are disowned or cut out of the will, they should be eligible until they are 18. Lets get realistic here.

    20. RennyG says:

      typical government. Identify the shortcoming, create a commission, after a year or so, it goes away!!!! The reason being is they all are playing the same game, no one can do anything about it and we got it made!!!!!! WE ARE AT FAULT BECAUSE WE ARE IGNORENT AND DOING NOTHING!!!! Lord have Mercy on us during this time of need!!!!

    21. Jeanne Stotler says:

      IF you reach 70 YO and are working, YOU can collect Soc. sec. without a penalty on yourearned wages, ALSO if you have childre under 19 and still in school, you ge a check for them as well, Stark is not doing anything illegal, repulsive, maybe?? Without Social security whe my husband died, I could not have survived s I was a working wife but I never mae nough to support up entirely, prior to his death he did get SOc. Sec. disability and we did have children under 18, You ge a MAX for 2 kids, so you are not making a fortune on it, it helps you survive.

    22. Pete Houston says:

      I agree with the others. Explain how the kids are getting the money. My guess is that their father died and the mother remarried to the Senator. The Senator did not adopt the kids into the new family. They would be eligible under the original fathers SS benefits. They could also be eligible for college benefits as well. The story is lacking the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say.

      • Bobbie says:

        What does it matter when he is well off enough to take care of those finances? The rest of the story is irrelevant. These government programs are suppose to go to the needy. A millionaire in the family does not constitute need and the rules of eligibility once reflected that.

    23. Joe Sneed says:

      You want to means test benefits? How about we means test collections? If you are rich you can take care of your own retirement so you should be able to opt out of SS. The former problem takes care of itself.

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