S. Ga. activist speaks out about SS reform - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

S. Ga. activist speaks out about SS reform

February 14, 2005

Bainbridge- James Dickerson resigned his post this weekend so he can concentrate more on taking the council's fight to government leaders.

       You can see the concern on James Dickerson's face. "It really just breaks your spirit," he says. That's because the federal government says something so important to him could be broke in the next decade. "I've been receiving social security for almost 25 years now," says Dickerson.

       And President Bush wants to make big changes. "I may end up paying more for medicare, then they're talking about cutting our social security benefit checks," says Dickerson. He adds that he's already forced to make about six-dollars an hour in order to keep his benefits. "I've been strapped down by limits they've put on us saying we can only make so much per month, gross before taxes." But even with his education and training, a bigger salary wouldn't cover the cost of being legally blind. "There are a lot of things for us to use that are so high."

       In order for the visually impaired to receive benefits, the Social Security Administration says, one, they must be legally blind beyond repair. And, two, they must earn no more than $1380.00 a month, meaning they cannot do any gainful employment and need benefits.

       But Dickerson says raising that salary cap could be key to saving Social Security and improving the quality of life for visually impaired people. "It would be more tax money going into the IRS, state taxes, and social security as well."

       No one with the Social Security Administration will talk about potential reforms. But officials do say the federal government sets that salary cap because anything higher would be considered gainful employment and not an adverse disability.

Posted at 5:11 PM by stephen.ryan@walb.com