Social Security Commissioner Dorcas R. Hardy, locking horns with a son of the President who started the system, says a lobbying group is using scare tactics to get money from elderly people afraid of losing their benefits.
Hardy says the benefits are in no danger and accuses the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a lobbying group headed by former Rep. James Roosevelt (D-Calif.) of being irresponsible.
A spokesman for the organization denied that scare tactics have been used to raise money.
The group began a nationwide mass mailing on Dec. 26 in which senior citizens are warned by Roosevelt that "never in the 51 years since my father, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, started the Social Security system have there been such threats to our Social Security and Medicare benefits as (in this) decade."
Benefit Cuts Claimed
The four-page letter says the government has used money from the Social Security Trust Fund to keep its checks from bouncing and that Congress has cut benefits for more than 10 million Americans born after 1916.
It notes that Social Security payments are being taxed for the first time under the new tax revision law and says the retirement age for receiving full benefits will be increased from 65 to 67.
"I expect to receive a lot of complaints," Hardy said in an interview Wednesday. "Congress will receive numerous complaints.
"This is really very irresponsible to suggest that current (Social Security) beneficiaries have to pay $10 to an organization to save something that's perfectly OK," she said.
"The tactics are certainly irresponsible," Hardy said. "The comments are quite inaccurate and (Roosevelt) is scaring people."
Jack McDavitt, the lobby group's director of public affairs, said for a $10 yearly fee, senior citizens receive "a personal, gold-embossed plastic membership card," a newspaper and "a legislative alert service" that advises them by letter or telegram of any developments in Washington involving Social Security and Medicare benefits.