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U.S. debt deadline threatens social security

Social security benefits (file image)
Social security benefits (file image)
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The U.S. is getting closer to it's defaulting on its debt. The June 1 deadline is a week away and lawmakers have not reached a deal yet to raise the debt ceiling.

The White House said negotiations between the two sides were ongoing.

If those negotiations aren't reached, some are concerned about their social security checks being reduced or delayed. The first round of checks for next month are scheduled for June 2.

Ed Heavey lives in Hoover and receives social security.

"I think its going to affect a lot of us. We count on that, we worked for thirty years or more and are retired and expect that. It's just not right," said Heavey. "Times are tough enough right now without unexpected surprises like that, let's just all work together and get something done."

Dorothy Little is a retired teacher, although she doesn't receive social security, she is worried about those who do.

"I'm concerned for people that depend on it for a living. It’s cutting their income or they are not going to have anything. It's terrible," said Little.

Assistant Professor of Economics at UAB Collat School of Business, Dr. Ben Meadows called the situation 'concerning' because of a lot of unknowns.

"The closest we have ever come to reaching the debt ceiling was within 72 hours of the deadline," said Meadows.

"We don't know legally with the treasury having to pick and chose what bills to pay ,we don't know legally can they do that, or do they just have to take what comes in first, so if you have a June 2 social security disbursement. does that get prioritized over things later in the month that don't? It's really Pandora's box. We have no idea what happens when we cross this threshold and really the great solution here would be just to not cross it."

Auburn University Professor of Finance, Dr. John Jahera understands concerns people have but believes negotiations will be reached. Jahera's opinion is that Congress and the White House will take the debt ceiling debate down to the wire, but won't let the nation default.

"Everybody likes to look at the worst case scenario, and if we do default, it's not going to be good but who know?" said "I personally don’t think we are going to get that point. There's a lot of political pressure to reach an agreement."

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Penny Kakoliris is the executive director and CEO of Positive Maturity Inc. The non-profit organization offers an array of services for seniors in Jefferson County. Kakoliris said some have concerns about what they will do if they don't receive their social security next month.

"About two thirds of those who receive social security rely on it for at least 40% or more of their income. The rest rely on it for 90% of their income," said Kakoliris.

She went on to say, "if they don’t receive their social security, they are going to start hurting on areas of rent, groceries, medication, paying their hospital bills."

Positive Maturity offers support with different programs to help with paying for medication, rent and utility assistance and connected people with food banks and other resources. The organization remains committed to helping those who need it.

"A lot of them are looking at their credit cards and upping their expenses on their credit cards and making the charges on that and its just not a win win situation for our aging population and I really think congress needs to take this to heart to think about our most vulnerable who needs the money the most," said Kakoliris.

"One lady was talking about her husband who receives hospice care, and that’s a 6,000 a month expense out of pocket she has to pay in order to give her husband comfort during his last days. Her thought was 'I guess I need to go back to work,' and she’s 76."

Kakoliris explained Positive Maturity offers a stipend volunteer program, along with an information and referral program. Their services can connect a senior to resources within a 10-20 mile radius and can also offer a months worth of medication for free in exchange for seniors to volunteer.

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If someone lives outside of Jefferson County and isn't able to get services through Positive Maturity, Kakoliris recommends reaching out to the United Way.

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