People wore birthday-themed hats, cooked out and munched on cake at the Contact Center on Vine St. last Friday. The celebration? Social Security’s 80th birthday.
Contact Center, a community-based membership organization aimed at making changes in policies that affect low-income people and health care, celebrated the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Social Security Act of 1935 by President Roosevelt.
“Before 1935, seniors may have slaved for as long as they could until they just fell over and died,” said Lynn Williams, lead organizer at the Contact Center. “You had to rely on having a child to help you in your old age, and if you had no surviving children, that’s why a lot of seniors ended up homeless.”
About 50 people gathered, many of who are on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Lead organizer at the Contact Center Lynn Williams estimates that about 90 percent of members of the Contact Center have a disability.
“Because a lot of our members are getting older, they’re very concerned about how they’re going to live into old age. Social security is very important to them,” said Williams.
One attendee, John Munnis, is on SSDI and said he hopes to protect social security especially for people like him who have Spina Bifida, a developmental birth defect of the spinal cord.
“I was born with Spina Bifida and my mobility is quite good, but many people with Spina Bifida need SSDI,” said Munnis, who volunteers for the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati.
One way to protect social security, he feels, is by “scrapping the cap.” Currently, anyone who makes more than $118,500 each year does not pay social security payroll taxes on anything above that amount, Williams said.
“Millionaires and billionaires should be paying their full share,” Willaims said. “It’s something that low income people can’t even comprehend just how much they’re making on stocks alone.”
Phillip M. Jacobs, who works with Dr JW Jones Center for Training & Innercity Development, said that while social security is worth celebrating, there is still work to be done.
“Hopefully the new president will make some better social security benefits,” Jacobs said. “When you have social security, you have (less) problems in the community.”