Social Security turned 77 today. Unfortunately, it's not a happy day for the historic program: new data compiled by the U.S. Treasury Department for Smart Money reports:
From January through August 6, the government reduced the size of roughly 115,000 retirees' Social Security checks on those grounds. That's nearly double the pace of the department's enforcement in 2011; it's up from around 60,000 cases in all of 2007 and just 6 cases in 2000.
So, we're garnishing Social Security checks. This development can't be blamed on poor personal finance and bad life choices. Most of these retirees took on this debt later in life to help others (mainly family members) pay for increasingly expensive and necessary higher ed degrees.
The economic insecurity among America's retirees is not new news. In just four years, as Demos reported, the number of seniors at risk of outliving their resources increased by nearly 2 million households. A whopping three-quarters of all senior households are considered in an "economically precarious position with little or no buffer against financial ruin should they be faced with an unexpected illness or other traumatic life event."
Social Security is supposed to be a response to economic insecurity among America's seniors. To garnish these checks it is to undermine one of our most important social programs and begin a dangerous precedent that threatens the safety net for millions of Americans.