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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) highlighted the negative impact that GOP proposals to privatize Social Security would have on Americans with disabilities and their families. Disabled workers, people with disabilities and their families account for 17% of Americans receiving Social Security benefits. Hoyer was joined by Rep. Jim Langevin (RI), Chairman of the House Democrats’ Disability Caucus, James Brown, a disabled worker, and Deborah Mason, the mother of a developmentally disabled child. Congressman Hoyer released the following statement at the press conference:
“President Bush has told America that Social Security has a problem and that private accounts are the solution. Democrats agree we should act to insure the solvency of Social Security. However, we believe private accounts are not a solution and, in fact, make the problem worse by adding to our already record debt and forcing a large cut in benefits.
“The large cut in benefits is of special concern for the 8 million Americans who are physically or developmentally disabled and who depend on Social Security benefits. The President has completely failed to address how his proposal would guarantee that these Americans would not be plunged into poverty by a reduction in benefits.
“Social Security provides more than half the total income for 1 in 2 disability beneficiaries; 1 in 5 rely on it for nearly all of their income. Republican proposals would likely cut Social Security benefits by more than 40 percent – including for people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities either have a shorter career or do not have a traditional career so their account balance would either be too small to make up for benefit cuts, or not exist at all.
“This debate is fundamentally about our values as Americans. Do we want to insure that our most vulnerable citizens have a minimum amount of security and protection? I believe the moral, ethical, and practical answer is ‘yes.’ Democrats believe that we are made stronger by helping the least among us. And that it is our moral obligation to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Deborah Mason and James Brown are two faces of Social Security. They represent the millions of Americans who benefit today or will in the future from Social Security disability benefits. And they are a reminder to all of us, that none of us are invulnerable to life’s unexpected challenges and changes.
“House Democrats are launching a ‘Faces of Social Security Disability Webpage’ today at HouseDemocrats.gov to highlight other Americans’ stories and we encourage you to visit that site to learn more or to post your own story.”