Disabled Man to Tea Party: 'Reforming Social Security Would Cut My Lifeline'
Michael Lion says he was watching "The Ed Show" at his parents' house on Monday, September 20, when conservative radio host Scott Hennen came on to talk about Social Security reform. Hennen announced his support for Congressman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposed budget plan, which includes cutting Social Security benefits for anyone under the age of 55.
"Look at the Paul Ryan plan," Hennen said on the show. "Paul Ryan says, you know what, if you are 55 and older, we're not touching your benefits. Fifty-five and younger, we are. We'll phase that in. That makes sense. Now you guys are going to call that a cut. I'd call that good fiscal common sense."
The 31-year-old Lion, who was born with cystic fibrosis and depends on his $440-a-month Social Security checks to get by, says he was outraged by Hennen's comment.
"They obviously don't go out and talk to the people who do actually need those programs," he told HuffPost. "How could anyone could look a disabled person in the face and say, 'You should be working?' I was born with this disease, I didn't ask for it. I didn't smoke for 30 years. This is a genetic condition. It just seems really out of touch with reality to say we're gonna cut these things."
Lion says he graduated from college in 2004 with a degree in business administration, and he aspired to work as the manager of a bank. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated so quickly after college that he was forced to move in with his parents in a small retirement community in Ladylake, Florida.
"I don't like being this old and living with my parents," he said. "It's a situation forced upon me --my medical bills cost six figures a year. At least with Social Security, I can pay for my gas and my food and my co-pays. If they actually got rid of Social Security for someone like me, I'd be completely dependent on my parents."
Many conservatives and Tea Party candidates, including Michele Bachman and Joe Miller, are hoping to reform Social Security "entitlements," beginning with those recipients who are under the age of 55. This would effectively cut Social Security benefits for people who are either disabled or a survivor of deceased parents.
"It's not right that they want to use the disabled of this country as their campaign stepping stone," Lion said. 'I would hope the people that are making these pledges actually go out and meet some of the people they're talking about cutting, so they can know how much these people really need it."