Correction to This Article
This letter incorrectly cited the publication date for a Post Magazine article, "The Pain Game." The article appeared in the Feb. 3 issue.

An Argument for Social Security

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

"The Pain Game" [Magazine, Jan. 3] mentioned that monthly Social Security disability benefits constitute the bulk of former All-Pro defensive lineman Dave Pear's income. The point deserves emphasis. His story exemplifies why Social Security is so important to working Americans, why the benefits it provides should not be cut and, indeed, why those benefits should be increased.

Long-term disability doesn't strike only those who participate in contact sports or hold dangerous jobs. A 20-year-old worker has a 3 in 10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration.

The vast majority of working Americans -- almost 80 percent -- have no long-term disability insurance protection other than Social Security.

While professional football players are among the fortunate few to be covered by a private policy, the article pointed out all the difficulties in collecting on that policy.

A 30-year-old worker who earns $30,000 and supports a wife and two young children is carrying, through Social Security, a disability policy with a present value of more than $400,000. Without Social Security, 55 percent of disabled workers and their families would live in poverty.

Just as quarterbacks need the physical protection of their offensive lines, they, along with all other American workers and their families, need the economic protection of Social Security.

NANCY J. ALTMAN

Bethesda

The writer is the author of the book "The Battle for Social Security: From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble." She chairs the board of directors of the District-based Pension Rights Center.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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