Last week marked the 77th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Social Security program and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan said nobody can underestimate the value of the program to the American people.
“At 77 years of age the U.S. Social Security system is old enough to retire. But too many people in the Northern Marianas and throughout the United States depend on Social Security to ever let the program stop working,” he said.
In the Northern Marianas, Sablan said Social Security is helping 1,255 man'amko enjoy their retirement and provides financial assistance to 1,331 surviving parents, spouses, and children, as well.
He added that Social Security's Supplemental Security Income supports another 1,022 residents of the Marianas, who are aged, blind, or disabled.
“Together these programs pump $25 million a year into our local economy. So in a very real way we are all benefiting,” he said.
The congressman also updated CNMI residents on his efforts to help local civil servants get back into the program.
“In May 2009 I met with Mr. Michael Astrue, head of the Social Security Administration. Based on our talk I recommended to the governor and the Legislature that they take a new look at the old decision to keep CNMI government employees out of Social Security. Today, the Commonwealth is moving toward giving our government employees the same security of belonging to the national retirement system that our private sector workers enjoy,” he said.
Sablan said he supports that change of policy, "Because the Commonwealth won't be able to dodge its employer contribution to the Internal Revenue Service the way it dodged paying the Northern Marianas Retirement Fund. The Social Security benefit may not be as generous, but at least CNMI government workers will have a benefit they can really count on.”
He added that the 111th Congress was able to provide Social Security recipients with a special $250 cost-of-living payment, and this year benefits rose another 3.6 percent. “In Congress I will continue to support the Social Security system, which provides peace of mind to our seniors and their families.”
He also reiterated what President Franklin Roosevelt said on signing the Social Security Act 77 years ago last week, “We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against . poverty-ridden old age.”