THE BLOG
12/23/2012 10:28 am ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

ReGifting Social Security and the Suddenly Poor

I'm one terrified senior citizen!

I'm scared of the Tea Party, Grover Norquist, John Boehner and the Wayne LaPierre's press conference. I'm scared of the fiscal cliff, even though I have no idea what it is and most of all I'm terrified when I hear my Social Security and Medicare are "on the table."

Before you go ReGifting my "entitlements" every member of Congress must be required to live on food stamps and Social Security for one month....in New York City!

And I'd like to clarify something. It's not an entitlement program at all, it is money taken out of my paycheck for fifty years to be put into a good faith fund to be returned to me in a monthly sum, commensurate with my earnings over those years, when I reached 62 ½!

And just because some spineless Republicans who are being blackmailed by a lobbyist's pledge or afraid they'll get a failing grade from the NRA or won't get Koch brothers money, are holding us hostage just to punish the president ....you just can't be playing fast and loose with my money! I grew up in the 60s we fought too hard for our rights to be treated like this by a group of petulant children...is simply unacceptable.

I've been working and paying taxes since I was 17 years old. Theoretically, I have been 'paying in' to Social Security for roughly...half a century!

For at least 20 of those years, a hefty percentage of the first $110,000 of my six-figure salary was usurped in the name of FICA insurance for my Social Security benefits to be safely tucked away, accruing interest for a rainy day when I was...old, which apparently I am now, as some actuaries call me 'elderly.'

Back in the day, it seemed like such a rip off, as if our paychecks had shrunk by what seemed like half, holding our breaths as we read the stubs. It always baffled me where the money went. But around October "when the FICA ran out", all was forgiven, when we got our rightful amount and segued nicely into those Christmas bonuses, profit sharing matching funds and two week paid vacations...

It never occurred to any of us we might actually have to live on this money but it was always nice to know my little nest egg would be there when I was in the Old Producer's Home.

When I reached 62 ½ which was the early opt in for Social Security, my friends who were willing to admit their age, would weigh the benefits of waiting until they were fully vested at 66, or in my case, 67, as I am a War Baby born in 1944, for some reason it's a year later.

By my calculations, about $300,000 (12.4% of the first $110,000) of my paycheck evaporated into the government coffers, accruing interest for the 20 years I made way into six figures.

So, if you're thinking of cutting any of those benefits...I'd like my money back, now...with interest, I could really use it!

Through a series of unforeseen events...being laided off, a divorce and serious accident wound me up evicted and homeless. Were it not for the generosity of friends and that monthly Social Security check I don't know what would have happened to me...arriving like clockwork the third Wednesday, or more accurately, midnight Tuesday of every month...but who's counting?

Contrary to popular belief, nobody on food stamps wants to be. If you don't know what it's like to run out of food stamp money 2 weeks before your next Social Security check comes, you have no idea what millions in this country are going through.

I would love to address Congress. I'll even wear Armani. I want to tell them about the new poor, the folks who have worked all their lives and because of illness or accident or HURRICANE, through no fault of their own, they are the "Suddenly Poor".

So when I see Eric Cantor and the rest of them walking down the halls smiling as they go home for the holidays after doing nothing but punishing the country. I want to scream at them, "Come with me, come to Rockaway, come see the mold and hear the coughs, look into the eyes of the children who have lost everything.

I will introduce you to 10 year old Ibraham, "When the water started to rise, I knew the adventure was about to begin."

And you haven't yet approved the financial aid to help these folks rebuild their lives! Are they going to have to start dying before you pay attention? The experts say we are in a "Level 4 approaching Level 5 Disaster Crisis" Chernobyl was a 7! Why should we expect you to do that if you refuse to raise taxes on billionaires? Have you no shame?

Come with me to the warming tents where the volunteers serve hot meals and hugs. Where emotions are raw and laughter and tears flow freely. Come with me on Christmas morning when the temperatures will plummet into the 20's and they still have no heat or power.

Do you think if you can't see us we're not here? This is not the America I grew up in. I will not let you forget these faces, I know I never will.

Rockaway Tree Lighting Hurricane Sandy Day 45

www.sandibachom.com