Debt Ceiling Fight Could Put Your Federal Benefits At Risk

CHICAGO (CBS) — If you don’t think the upcoming federal debt ceiling deadline will impact you, it might – if you’re expecting a check in the mail.

As CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, millions of Social Security, disability and veteran’s benefits appear to be in jeopardy amid the debate in Washington over the federal debt ceiling.

Chicagoan Helen Giles is emotional.

“To hear what the President said on the news today, tears just came to my eyes,” she said.

It was a CBS News interview that has Giles so worried. President Barack Obama was speaking about how Social Security and other government entitlement checks, including veteran’s benefits, might not be paid if the federal debt ceiling is not raised by Congress by the Aug. 2 deadline.

CBS Anchor Scott Pelley asked, “Can you guarantee as President those checks will go out on August 3rd?”

The President’s answer, “I cannot guarantee that those checks will go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

Giles, a South Side resident, went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital again on Tuesday. With heart disease, diabetes and waiting for a kidney transplant, she goes there often. She gets Social Security disability benefits amounting to $770 a month.

“I just go from month to month,” she says.

Congressional Republicans say if they don’t get the massive budget cuts they want, they won’t vote to raise the ceiling.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner asks, “Where is the President’s plan? When is he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt limit increase is his problem.”

A spokesman for the nation’s largest senior citizen lobbying group says the President’s concern is “valid.”

Heather Huppner with AARP Chicago says, “Now is not the time for irresponsible rhetoric and playing politics with the hard earned benefits for Social Security recipients.”

Helen Giles puts it simply. If her checks stop coming, “I might as well die.”

Some experts warn that failure to raise the ceiling could cause U.S. stock prices to fall dramatically and drive the economy deeper into recession. Many Republicans don’t believe it.

  • Native Texan

    If there is NOT enough money in the coffers to meet our obligations to our OWN American citizens, then explain to me how there is money available to continue funneling BILLIONS of US dollars to the citizens of other countries. Explain to me how there is money to support programs for illegal aliens here in the United States. Explain to me how there is money in the coffers to continue funding the UN – an organization that is clearly acting against US interests and against the principles we hold dear as Americans. Obama is a fool.

    • Roberta Waker

      You are so right. We need to stop paying for benefits for ILLEGALS, they are bankrupting our country. What scares me is if we raise the debt limit this year, what will we do NEXT YEAR? It will never end and this country is already close to bankruptcy. Maybe China should call in their markers and take over this country; at least they would stop ILLEGAL immigration.

  • becky

    this would impact a lot of people… myself included. i rely on my disability to help support my two children. i can barely walk, let alone work. i pray that our government takes care of the problem so our great country is able to get back on its feet.

    • Roberta Waker

      If Congress paid into and received Social Security, repaid what they stole from it with interest, Social Security would be solvent. We can’t let our government continue to STEAL from us – FIRE ALL OF THEM IN 2012.

  • mr 219

    What happened the last time the government shut down? Repeating what politicians say is not reporting.Try questioning what is said, not just repeat it like it’s the word of God. Stop the fear mongering



  • Roberta Waker

    There are many cuts that the government can make. Reduce salaries, cut perks and pork spending, let Congress pay into and collect Social Security and eliminate their lucrative pensions and forever health care. Stop paying benefits to ILLEGAL ALIENS. The problem with raising the debt without raising taxes for the rich, is what will happen next year? Will we need to raise the debt again? This country is in a lot of trouble and we need to STOP unnecessary spending NOW. If ANYONE hits Social Security or Medicare – they are DONE. PERIOD.

  • dennis

    social security SHOULDN’T even be a part of this issue. WE THE PEOPLE HAVE PUT into it & so did OUR employers. needless to say it has been funded by the people both past & present.
    the big issue is that LB JOHNSON & THE REST OF THE DEMOCRATS at that time stole our hard working $$$$ in order to cover up the cost of the vietnam war alond with other things. THAT MONEY HAS NEVER BEEN PAID BACK!!!!!

    • Sarah

      I am a 43 year old single mother of two. I retired from the military 4 years ago and am working full time now. I rely on my military pension for my mortgage, etc…. I don’t honestly expect to ever see the money i’ve contributed to SS, but please don’t take away my military pension too!

      • Jayan

        Cheers pal. I do appertciae the writing.

  • Roberta Waker

    Is Congress getting paid their salary? Are pork projects being paid with our tax dollars? Then WHY is Social Security even on the table? We PAID INTO this system, the government STOLE this money and now they want us to pay again? I don’t think so. Until Congress stops their runaway spending and pays into and gets Social Security, we will always be at their mercy. FIRE THEM ALL in 2012!!!

  • amber

    it already said on the news touching “social security, military etc benefits is political poison” Obama got himself another 4 years by killing Osama Bin Laden but now he just blew it by threatening to take away benefits. i live in a neighborhood with a lot of people who recieve those benefits and if they didnt get thier checks they are going to be in a lot of trouble because the landlords dont care if you didnt get your check, they only care if you have the money and if you dont you will be homeless

  • Crissy

    This is terrifying….My husband is disabled, and we have a toddler…I can’t work because I have to care for our child. The Gov has taken 500 dollars away from us since we got married and had our daughter- all for no reason at all- but oddly enough, it happened as soon as Obama got into office….Things that make you go “Hmmmm….” Anyways, This is ALL we have…we barely make it on the $400 a month SS gives our family….Without that money, we will be on the street within a week. The apartments won’t wait weeks for their rent…so we’re pretty much doomed at this point. I pray that this gets taken care of, before many others like us will be homeless.

  • working man

    Obama and Congress need to nock off theB.S and do the job they were put in office to do.

  • Justice

    There’s a seerct about your post. ICTYBTIHTKY

  • Marie E. Mudgett

    So why is this situation different from what Bernie Madoff did?? Congress and the Pres need to go to jail for spending the money that we supposedly invested in Soc Security. Comments?

  • sid

    the fed gov. takes in about 200bil, a month. when you get paid, taxes are taken out, and any ss holdings go into the ss account. so all ss recipiants “WILL” get your deserved check!!! the only way, this will not happen, is if the prez, holds your money, tells you a story, about the “BAD” republicans, and like most stories he tells, you’ll believe “EVERY WORD”!!! i’m an independent, i don’t care for republicans, but i despise socialism!!! do your self a favor, and listen to both sides, and google as much as you can. you’ll find out things that potus, and most of the media, don’t want you to know!!! GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU, AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK”!!!

  • dee

    we need to STOP paying these idots so much to MISREPRESENT us..take their checks -see how quickly they pass legislation to ensure they get their fat cut of the pie..

    • sid

      do you know what a politician retires on? his full salary, plus a half more, if they are married!!! and “WE” pay for it!!!

  • dee

    Do I see another Civil war brewing yonder over the valley of washymyhandsofittown? and the first battle will be the battle of bullshtrun…with the misrepresenting congressmen on the front line..

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