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“Social Security Benefits at Risk”

2013 October 8
by Steve Perrigo

The Security Administration issued an Emergency Message to help guide employees when answering beneficiary questions about the debt ceiling’s impact on benefit payments. SSA representatives are to issue the following warning that the Agency cannot guarantee full benefit payments if the debt ceiling isn’t increased.

“Unlike a federal shutdown which has no impact on the payment of Social Security benefits, failure to raise the debt ceiling puts Social Security benefits at risk.”

The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations.

Failing to increase the debt limit would cause the government to default on its legal obligations – an unprecedented event in American history. Congress has always acted when called upon to raise the debt limit. Since 1960, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit.

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