Let's try 'insurance benefits'

Friday, March 4, 2011; 6:42 PM

John Stewart [Free for All, Feb. 26] suggested that the term "entitlements" not be used when writing about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and that "elective transfers" be substituted.

I submit that his term is no better. The better term in the case of Social Security is "insurance benefits." Workers pay premiums for an insurance program under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) to ensure a safety net for themselves during their working years against disability and for death benefits for children and spouse. Like any "whole life" insurance, the program has a cash value at the end that can be thought of as "deferred compensation." Social Security has its own funding through FICA premiums and contributes nothing to the general budgetary deficit or debt.

The payoff is not a "gift" from taxpayers. I doubt that if Stewart cashed in his whole life insurance policy after paying the premiums for 30 years, he would consider it a "gift" from the insurance company.

Raymond Meyer, Falls Church

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