2002-05-18 / Columnists

Simon Says…. From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Simon Saysâ026. From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Simon Says
From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

There is still time to go on the Atlantic City trip this Saturday, May 18 to Trump Marina. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8:00 a.m. The cost is $25.00 with $15.00 returned. Call my office at 718-945-1216 for reservations.We were shocked to see Congregation Derech Emunah was again very seriously damaged by fire on Tuesday afternoon. As a member of the All Rockaway Planning Council we worked to make sure the synagogue was kept in the Arverne Renewal Plan.We were pleased to see Derech Emunah in the Arverne-By-The-Sea proposal. It is located on Beach 67th Street, which the developers plan to convert into Ocean Way, the main commercial strip in their development.Congratulations to Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lindhal of the 101st Precinct on his promotion from Captain to Deputy Inspector. Captain Lindhal was commanding officer of the 101st Precinct where we worked together closely for over two years. Good Luck and best wishes. This promotion is well deserved.On Thursday the Good Government Regular Democratic Club had a Town Hall Meeting. Social Security Administration. District Manager James M. Glasser addressed our club on eligibility entitlement and the future of social security.Social Security is the most successful domestic program covering 154 million workers or 96% of the US work force; 32 million receive benefits; 15 million Americans have been lifted out of poverty by Social Security.Social Security is now solvent. During 2000, $568 billion came in while only $115 billion went out. The trust fund has a $1.05 trillion reserve.Social Security may face problems in the future when baby boomers retire. As Americans live longer, the trust fund is also depleted. In 2000 there were 35 million over age 65. In 2030 they expect 70 million over the age of 65. In 1960 there were 5 workers for every beneficiary. In 2030 there will be only 2 workers for every beneficiary. In 2017 social security expenditures will exceed revenue. In 2027 expenditures will exceed all incomes to Social Security under current rules. In 2041 all funds will be depleted.There are a number of plans to save the system and continue benefits. Taxes could be collected on income over $84,000, the current maximum. Benefits could be cut and the retirement age could be raised.Social Security is needed, as 70% of the work force has no private disability insurance; 50% have no savings set aside for retirement. We praise the local staff of social security for solving the problem of community residents whose benefits have been cut off by error.Glasser explained the "notch baby" situation. When inequities were found, benefits were recalculated for persons born from 1910-1916. They received higher benefits. Persons born from 1917 to 1921 received what the system should pay but not the higher benefits.All social security recipients should use direct deposit. It costs the government much less and the funds are available immediately. We were told how a local letter carrier left benefit checks on the counter in a neighborhood apartment building. Many of our members reported problems with postal deliveries.The rules for SSI are different. They require continued eligibility. A change in family living arrangements such as after a fire could cause a loss of benefits.Residents needing information on social security can call 1-800-772-1213. The web site is www.ssa.gov.Darnley A. Jones, Queens Outreach Director of the Department for the aging was our second speaker. Jones spoke on behalf of Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago who was unable to attend. Although the Department is facing budget cuts, none of the senior centers in our community is slated to close. Some centers could be merged if further cuts are necessary. All information about department services and other programs for seniors is available by calling 212-442-1000. Many eligible residents did not know about services available to them. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides financial help with fuel and utilities to income eligible homeowners and renters. Income standards have been raised in recent years. The Weatherization Referral and Packaging Program (WRAP) helps low-income elderly keep homes warmer in winter and more comfortable all year round with weatherization and energy related services.Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) provides rent increase exemptions to eligible tenants 62 and over.The housing unit works with service providers, the private sector, government agencies and elderly consumers to plan an advocate for housing resources that will meet the changing financial and physical needs of older New Yorkers.The Elderly Crime Victims Resource Center helps elderly victims of crime and also offers prevention counseling as well as assistance on elder abuse.Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) offers free assistance by trained older volunteers to people with questions on health benefits and programs, supplementary health insurance and long-term care insurance.Legal Assistance is provided to older adults through legal service organizations throughout the five boroughs.Reduced Fare helps people 65 and over apply for new reduced fare metro cards for use on subway or buses.Alzheimers and Long-Term Care Services provides counseling and referral services for families.Grandparents Resource Center addresses the emerging needs of grandparents and other older adults raising children on their own.Age Works provides job training and referrals for older New Yorkers. Computer operation and retail trade are available.We urge everyone to register to vote in the September 10th primary. You must be registered at least 30 days before the primary to vote. Call my office if you want to register or check your status.Get well to Mr. Rockaway-Mario Russo. Mario had several strokes and is recuperating at Peninsula Hospital.

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