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When it comes to Social Security, language matters.

by Deborah Halpern, SMO member

Retired citizens receive Social Security from the payroll taxes paid during their years of employment (or if receiving a Spousal or Dependent Child Benefit, from the payroll taxes paid by their spouses or parents during their years of employment). Social Security is an earned benefit, accrued over many years.

There is certainly nothing wrong if a retiree feels like referring to Social Security as an entitlement and they are correct in thinking it was earned from their contributions during their years of employment. However, the word "entitlement" does have an undertone of negativity implying that someone is getting something that they don't deserve.

Some members of our federal government have referred to Social Security as an "entitlement" with this negative connection. Some have even suggested reducing it or eventually eliminating it in order to "balance the budget" and thus reduce a government deficit.

To help counter or deflate inaccurate perceptions about Social Security, we can and should refer to Social Security as an earned benefit, accumulated from decades of paying payroll taxes. By doing this,we enforce real facts: the recipients of Social Security are those who WORKED for it! Social Security is NOT a government hand-out!

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