Chief Actuary Confirms: Withholding Social Security Checks a Decision for the Treasury
July 13, 2011
Chief Actuary for Social Security Administration Confirms to Congressman Huelskamp that a Decision to Withhold Social Security Checks Would Be One Made by the Treasury
Congressman Huelskamp points out that decision to withhold checks would be a political one made by the President
(WASHINGTON) – During this morning's Budget Committee meeting, Congressman Huelskamp asked Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary for the Social Security Administration, to explain how the Obama administration could withhold Social Security checks to American seniors. The question was prompted by a statement by President Obama that he could not guarantee that Social Security checks would be mailed August 3, 2011, if Congress fails to increase the debt limit. Yesterday, Congressman Huelskamp issued a statement noting that it is irresponsible for the President to use seniors on Social Security as pawns to leverage his point in the debt limit negotiations.
Mr. Goss told Congressman Huelskamp: "The responsibility of the Social Security Administration per se, my boss, Commissioner Astrue, is to in fact determine how much in the way of benefit payments people are supposed to receive. We send that information actually over to the Department of the Treasury. They are the ones who actually send out the payments, whether it's electronic funds, transfers, or check."
While showing the chart below during the hearing, Congressman Huelskamp pointed out that there are sufficient receipts to cover Social Security payments, and noted that, "I see under no circumstances - unless it was a political decision - that the administration would refuse or withhold Social Security checks, because there are sufficient receipts."
Click picture above to view video of Congressman Huelskamp's questions
In response to Congressman Huelskamp’s question during the hearing about how the checks would not go out, Mr. Goss told Congressman Huelskamp that the decision to withhold checks is one left to the U.S. Treasury: “I wish I could give you a definitive answer to that. I think you would have to talk to people at Department of the Treasury, quite frankly…The exact mechanism by which that happens is very complicated, and it’s Department of Treasury and Public Debt that would have to speak to that issue.”