In the past few weeks Post editorial writers have declared that Social Security cost-of-living adjustments should be cut to balance the budget, that home health care for the elderly is nice but too expensive, that candidates have been "craven" in addressing senior citizen concerns and now that Social Security benefits should be reduced if seniors continue to work.

As the budget crunch gets more and more pointed, The Post turns more and more to the elderly as a scapegoat. There seems to be a general reluctance to face the fact that growing numbers of people in America are senior citizens. That requires changes in goods and services and entails costs. As disagreeable as that might be to baby-boom editorial writers, it's the simple truth and will be through their retirement.

It's also a fact that cutting Social Security does not reduce the deficit, that seniors have no financial protection for nursing home expenses, much less home health care, and that reductions in Social Security are a disincentive to continued employment, and they lower productivity. The Post also seems to have forgotten that it was give-backs of taxes on the wealthy and corporate America combined with huge military expenditures that caused these deficits -- not Social Security. KEN HOAGLAND Washington

Having just retired, at age 65, I am inclined to agree with The Post's Dec. 2 editorial opposing repeal of the Social Security earnings test, which limits what recipients can earn without having their benefits reduced. Then I recall that Nov. 21 editorial lauding presidential candidate Bruce Babbitt's proposal to subject a greater share of Social Security benefits to the income tax ("that is the right way to extract some money from the system"). I do not find any statistics in that editorial on the amount of tax revenue already being extracted from middle-income retirees on 50 percent of their Social Security entitlements. But I do see a relevant chart in the Nov. 15 financial planning section of The Post. Projections on this chart for an inflation rate of 6 percent show that a retiree who now can get by on $1,000 a month will in 5 years need $1,328 just for the same standard of living.

In the afternoon mail arrives an official notice from the Social Security Administration, announcing the basic premium increase for Medicare B, from the current $17.90 per month to $24.80 per month in 1988. The notice includes a brief bit of assurance that the new premium will amount to no more than the COLA to be added to one's Social Security payment. Still, we must wait for Congress to put a final price tag on those additional, mandatory premiums for the "catastrophic" portion of the Medicare bill. Should the retired taxpayer anticipate a maximum surcharge of $580 per person approved by the House, one of the variable rates approved by the Senate, or some cryptic trade-off?

For any retiree who is trying to live prudently on no more than 65 percent of preretirement income, the prospect of increased tax liability combined with rising inflation may just be enough to tip the balance in favor of repealing that earnings test.


As a retiree living in comfortable circumstances, I see no reason at all why people like me shouldn't be asked to make the relatively minor sacrifice of forgoing part of the planned 1988 Social Security cost-of-living increase to help bring down the federal deficit. I think I have the normal quota of human greed and enjoy taking money when it is offered me. Even on the level of pure self-interest, however, giving up a portion of the COLA increase (or all of it for that matter) by those for whom it is merely icing on the cake makes sense since the health of the general economy is of far greater importance than having a few extra dollars to spend next year.

The argument that reducing COLA's for those in the higher income brackets makes Social Security equivalent to a means-tested welfare program is specious. As Hobart Rowan {op-ed, Dec. 3} points out, automatic COLA's were not part of the original Social Security contract between the government and the working population. Furthermore, a form of means testing has already been introduced into the system by the tax on Social Security payments to recipients in the upper-income brackets.

Perhaps if our timid legislators would probe a little deeper, they would find that many of their constituents believe as I do. I hope so. CHARLES C. FLOWERREE Rectortown, Va.