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Department & Division News

Say 'No' to Means Testing

(This article first appeared in the March-April 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

The services that Americans depend on are often on the chopping block. When it comes to seniors, attacks on Social Security and Medicare are just the tip of the iceberg. Who exactly is standing up for retirees?

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-CA) recently wrote a letter to President Obama, urging him “to work to strengthen and improve Social Security and Medicare benefits.” Schakowsky, who spoke at our last convention, also addressed concerns about the “Chained CPI” (Consumer Price Index) and proposals for cutting benefits through “means testing” – a phrase you will hear often during the 114th Congress.

So what exactly is “means testing” for Social Security and why are we opposed to it?

A means test is used to determine whether an individual or family is eligible for Social Security, based on whether they possess the “means” to do without it. Politicians who advocate means testing often describe it as a way of preventing wealthy people from benefiting from Social Security.

Don’t be fooled. This may sound like a good way to reduce Social Security’s costs, but it opens the door to reducing your benefits, while at the same time stigmatizing those who qualify for Social Security as “takers” (of government benefits). Means testing also promotes the idea that you have to be dirt poor to be eligible.

In fact, Social Security is paid for by employees and employers. Eighty-five percent of the FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) deductions that appear on workers’ paystubs goes into the Social Security program; the remaining 15 percent goes into Medicare.

Means testing provides an incentive for individuals not to save for retirement so they will qualify for Social Security. On the other hand, many people who paid into Social Security would be ineligible for benefits or receive reduced benefits based on their economic means.

Retirees should continue to contact their congressional representatives, asking them to say “no” to means testing. The phone number for the Capitol Hill switchboard – (202) 224-312 – is on the back of your membership card for your convenience. Let Congress know thatwe do not want means testing, and that we want them to strengthen Social Security, not cut it. Also remember to thank congressional representatives like the Honorable Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Doris O. Matsui (D-CA), who support Social Security.

Save the Dates

The APWU Retirees Department is a member organization of the Alliance for Retired Americans and will be celebrating two very important dates this year: Aug. 14, the 80th anniversary of Social Security, and July 30, the 50th anniversary of Medicare. Celebrations will take place across the country. These important programs, which affect 77 million Americans, need your support so they can continue to serve future generations.

Contract Negotiations Underway

Retiree chapters have joined Contract Action Teams, helping to educate members, families, friends and community organizations about how valuable the Postal Service is to our communities.

On Feb. 19, the APWU began contract negotiations. During bargaining, President Mark Dimondstein advocated for providing postal banking and other services that will strengthen the Postal Service as an integral part of our communities. These views are backed by many other organizations, including National Alliance for Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) and the Alliance for Retired Americans. 
If you want to help with our campaign to improve the Postal Service, visit www.apwunccc.org to read and download materials.

To start a retiree chapter in your area, or to find a chapter or Contract Action Team close to you, contact the Retirees Department by calling toll free (877) 279-8669.