Debt negotiations leaves local Social Security recipients in limbo

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- President Obama and congressional leaders were back at it again Wednesday, trying to reach an agreement on raising the nation's debt limit. The President said billions of dollars in social security, veteran, and disability checks could be in jeopardy.

Time is running out, as Democrats and Republicans remain sharply divided over the issues of taxes and spending. Many in East Tennessee are worried how this could affect the people who rely on their monthly checks, if they don't go out on August 3.

The battle over the debt limit continues in Washington DC, but here at home some are hoping the debate won't impact them, but if a decision isn't reached in time, the funds many rely on to get by every month, may not be there in just three weeks.

70-million checks go out every month nationwide, for social security, veterans, and disability. President Obama told CBS News Tuesday, "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd."

President Obama says that's because lawmakers have not reached an agreement on the nation's debt limit, but to retiree Ralph Wolfenbarger, the wrong people will be impacted by on-going debates.

Ralph said, "I worked 40 years for the same company," as he reads the newspaper at the O'Connor Senior Center in Knoxville. "So, now you want to take that away," he says of the funds he's earned through social security.

Ralph says he's lucky to have other finances every month if his social security check doesn't come in three weeks, but some of his friends at the senior center won't be so lucky.

Misty Hagy Goodwin is the Senior Manger for Project LIVE, at the Office on Aging. She said, "Most of their checks are less than a thousand dollars per month. It would be just absolutely devastating for them, they already struggle, they haven't had a cost of living increase in two years, and so everything else has gone up."

Misty helps area seniors find ways to keep up with their bills every month, and avoid homelessness. "We've really seen an increase just in the past years of seniors facing that, because they can't afford to stay in their homes, they can't afford the upkeep," she said.

They help between 150 and 200 seniors every month, and always have a waiting list. "And if this happens, I just don't know where they would go and what they would do. There's just not enough resources and housing out there to take folks with no income," she said.

The Social Security Administration says as of December, 1.2 million Tennesseeans get a check every month, and about 60% are retirees.

Ralph said, "Don't hurt the poor people, let's go after some that can afford the cuts, not the poor people." He added, "Why are we not talking about government retirements?"

Misty recommends taking a few steps to start saving money right now, in case there are no checks next month. She said, you can set the temperature higher at home, to save on your utility bill. She recommends coupons and sales to save on your groceries, and sign up for any supplemental services, such as food stamps. Ask your doctor if you can switch to generics to save on your medications. And, you may want to look into subsidized housing, if you're having trouble getting by every month.

The White House insists lawmakers must make a deal by next week, if there's any hope of passing it in time.

The U.S. actually hit its 14.3 trillion dollar debt limit back in May. Since then, treasury officials have been relying on accounting adjustments to keep the government operating.


You must be logged in to post comments.

Username:
Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Join the Conversation!

While WVLT allows comments on articles, we ask that you respect the online community. Comments may be removed at any time for violations including:

  • Obscenity, profanity, vulgarity, racism, violent descriptions, name-calling or personal attacks.
  • Abuse of multiple accounts.
  • Off-topic comments.

Comments may be checked for inappropriate content or rule violation, but the station is under no legal obligation to monitor or remove comments. If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator. 
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

  • by Andrea Location: BG, KY on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:24 PM
    As hard as people have worked over the years to make this money, that the government took form their checks over the years and said would be there when they retired. As little as they receive now after all the hoops they jumped threw to get it. Now to take it away. Do you really think that is fair? I feel there has to be another way. I truly hope they find it soon.
  • by Joanne Location: CT on Jul 18, 2011 at 10:09 AM
    I have worked for 36 years and am now on disability. I don't think it's right to take away ss benefits.
  • by diane Location: mayfield ky on Jul 14, 2011 at 06:09 PM
    we need to cut welfare expenses if those of us who are on social security don't get our checks we will be in a world of hurt most of us depend on those checks mose of us would lose everything we have! what's he doing to us? cut back on some other program we haven't got a cost of living raise in 2 years he's the worst president we have had.
  • by jo Location: crossville tn on Jul 14, 2011 at 12:32 PM
    if this well happen to us then my mother and I will lose our house and everything we have ! we both live on disabilty and unable to work !
  • by Peggy Location: United States on Jul 14, 2011 at 09:19 AM
    I am dependent on my check. I have tried to work but there are no jobs out there either thanks to the governments mess. Why don't they stop the checks going to the congressmen and Senotors and their staff members...things will be solved fast if that was the threat.
  • by Sandy Location: NE. on Jul 14, 2011 at 08:36 AM
    why is it that when the government screws up it's the seniors that pay?? What are they to do about their BILLS. It's time the rich pay. Why not take the pay from congress they made the mess. The government need to keep out of Social Security
  • by shawn on Jul 14, 2011 at 04:41 AM
    I sympathize with the folks who depend on this money. But as for now I am still working and paying my social security taxes. Where's my money? When it comes time for me to retire and draw MY money where am I going to be. In November folks let's all go to the poles and show the crooks in DC that we are tired of their talk. Replace the people in DC with somebody who actually wants to help the american people not just the poor not just the middle class and not only the rich. ALL AMERICANS! We need to reestablish our country as the dominate country in the world!
  • by shawn on Jul 14, 2011 at 04:40 AM
    I sympathize with the folks who depend on this money. But as for now I am still working and paying my social security taxes. Where's my money? When it comes time for me to retire and draw MY money where am I going to be. In November folks let's all go to the poles and show the crooks in DC that we are tired of their talk. Replace the people in DC with somebody who actually wants to help the american people not just the poor not just the middle class and not only the rich. ALL AMERICANS! We need to reestablish our country as the dominate country in the world!
  • by AMACAR on Jul 13, 2011 at 09:08 PM
    I AM BEGINNING TO FEEL LIKE THE GOVERNMENT ARE LIKE TEENAGERS WHO STOLE THEIR PARENTS CREDIT CARD AND RAN IT UP BEYOND COMPREHENSION.
  • by Lynn Location: Grainger county on Jul 13, 2011 at 07:18 PM
    Compromise is not a dirty word, although you would think it gets stuck in Mitch McConnel's throat. Let his alternative go into effect and let the President raise the debt ceiling as needed since Congress keeps abdicating it's responsibility on this and other matters. Providing for the common defense and paying the bills are the responsibility of Congress per the Constitution - let all those millionaires get off their high horses and do the people's work.
  • Page:

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Copyright © 2015 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 125509628 - local8now.com/a?a=125509628
Gray Television, Inc.