Social Security - This just happened

So this just happened. I called SS to get some basic information about my SS account. I selected the return call rather than wait on the phone line. The return caller from SS called back asked me how he could help me with my “Entitlement” account.

I explained to him it was a earned benefit not a entitlement, no reaction and I suppose whatever feelings he had were muted by the fact that all calls are recorded and listened to. So I wonder if others have are hearing this same reply to any info on SS. If so when did this start and since words matter, who ordered this? I believe that we must attack and kill the word entitlement , after all a entitlement are easier to kill than a earned benefit. So please add your experience or call SS and ask them the simple question as to when their SS started.


If you contribute enough in your working life (and your employer((or you if you’re self-employed)) has contributed the required match) and you’re at least 62 years old then you’re entitled to the benefit.

It’s not discretionary spending subject to the political whims of the appropriation process–you’re entitled by statute.

Same for Medicare.

It’s a legal term, not a poke.

Paul Ryan thought that for like twenty years.
Not once was he able to do so.

Look around the country at what has happened to state and federal employee retirement benefits, earned with years of service.


Honestly, I think we should refer to more things as entitlements or welfare.

One of the biggest successes of the conservative movement has been to redefine highly effective anti-poverty programs as “unearned” benefits. Nobody should have to “earn” basic human rights such as access to food, healthcare, housing, etc. These are things that the wealthiest country in the history of the world can and should provide to everyone.

Rather than accept the conservative framing, it would be better to reclaim “entitlements” as a good thing that rich and prosperous nations should provide to stay rich and prosperous.


I agree, but that ship has sailed. Just like Democrat Party vs. Democratic Party. I’ve heard Demos use the word entitlement as well as Democrat Party. Words matter and we should push back at every opportunity against the word “entitlement” when used. Even Medicaid, a basic human right, not welfare. Banish the word “Welfare” from our lexicon, call it a basic human right. The Republicans are so much better at the use of language both in usage and repetition.


You do understand that entitlements have been have been positioned by the republicans as welfare and something that undeserving people get. How many programs have been cut in the last few years. School lunch, Medicate, hey lazy single mother without a car, get a job or we won’t feed your kids. Sure they create but buffers, but then they move around the edges, creating more obstructions.

This is how Republicans define entitlement “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” Like gay rights, heath care and on and on.

One of Websters definitions “reaping the benefits of their hard work” So sorry, It’s easier to put air back in a torn balloon than to recapture the word entitlement. This is why Luntz keeps winning.


I also refuse to use the word welfare. It’s really unemployment insurance and the premium is paid from taxes.


Hey but at least we’ve got 14 frikin’ aircraft carriers. Amurka Hoo Rah! Amirite? /s

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I heard some discussion of the genesis of Social Security and it seems the term “entitlement” was chosen consciously to convey it was not a dole, a gift. It is true that conservatives have tarnished the word, but the Social Security Administration probably uses the term because it is in their regulations to do so.


It is the case that the GOP has been demonizing the word “entitlement” for decades, trying to cast moral aspersions on citizens who access public services.

However, the word has an particular meaning in federal and state appropriating and budgeting. Most notably in the Social Security Act, entitlements were created which attach to the beneficiary of the services. This distinguishes the govt responsibility to pay from “discretionary” programs. The entitlement means that when a qualified beneficiary accesses a service, the fed and state govt’s balance sheets are encumbered and they have the responsibility to pay. For example, if a qualified Medicare beneficiary gets a covered service from a participating hospital, there is an obligation to pay, whether or not the Congress has appropriated money for the program.

In budgeting, authorization means that Congress has passed a law that has certain rules about what money can be spent on (say the Defense Authorization Bill); authorizing legislation usually has dollar amounts in their language which means nothing. Authorization is drafted and worked on by the substantive committees, such as defense, foreign affairs, etc.

Appropriation means that the Congress has given the admin the power to spend money out of the federal treasury. Appropriations bills are drafted and worked on by the budget and appropriations committees and reported out to the House and the Senate. Most appropriations are for discretionary programs where the Congress sets a limit on what can be spent in a fiscal year and indicates what it can be spent for. If a contractor is say, building a weapons system, the DOD is given annual amounts that it can spend. Technically, if the weapons system is not finished, there is no responsibility to pay the following year.

Over in the Social Security Act (of which Medicare and Medicaid are Titles) there is a different system. Here, the Congress has determined the conditions under which individual citizens can qualify to seek services or payments. These “entitlements” track with the individual citizen. In the Social Security Act, there are also 2 large Trust Funds (Social Security and Medicare) into which payroll taxation is accumulated. However, the conditions in which there is an entitlement to a service or payment are independent of whether the Trust Fund has enough money. This makes these programs “uncontrollable” in the sense that the only control is to change the eligibility and coverage of the program. They are big enough that this makes budgeting difficult and makes any statement about federal spending subject to whether the Appropriators have correctly judged how many people will retire or go to a hospital to get care. Atop this, there are actual appropriations bills for entitilement programs that allow the govt to spend and they have actual limits, but the responsibility to pay is not limited by the amount appropriated.

The most particularly hard to manage entitlement program is Medicaid since it is a federal/state program and does not have a Trust Fund. Part of its complexity is that States cannot run deficits, but, as a condition of their State Plans, have promised to accept the responsibility to pay for any qualified beneficiary accessing a covered service from a participating provider. The typical way that this is handled is to cut payment rates or delay payment if the State legislature has not appropriated enough money.

The GOP has been trying to make Medicaid a block grant forever. One of the States (I think Tennessee) is trying to convert its program to a block grant as a “demonstration” program. It is being challenged in the courts and will probably fall over the part of the provision that holds that demonstration programs are to show better ways of delivering services, but cannot change the entitlement to the care (by those qualified). Medicaid State Plans have minimums that they have to cover and there are federal floors re eligibility. There has also been an attempt to put work requirements into place and they are being thrown out by the courts since Medicaid eligibility is a function of income and family configuration.

For those of us who want all Americans to have decent access to services and payments, we should be happy that these programs are entitlements. We should resist GOP efforts to demonize.


Indeed…words mean things.

The entitlement mentality is the phrase that put the stink on entitlement. It ignores what the word really means to give the low information voter (a whack of whom are actually subsisting on entitlements) a bumper sticker phrase to condemn and demean those people who don’t look like them or live where or as they do.

There’s usually a racist undertone to the phrase. Or an overtone. Or a fundamental.

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Yes. “We are entitled to our privileged position, but those people think they’re entitled to the same status.”


There is a distinction between Title 2 (retirement) and Title 16 (SSI), but for Title 2, it is usually referred to as an entitlement. (There are lots of references in the various SSA systems to PE, for Post Entitlement.) SSA is frequently a tool of both parties, but it is not chiefly a marketing entity. Whatever word gets used will be similarly manipulated.

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