EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Continuing our "Grade Your Government" series, we take a look at the Social Security Administration. It's currently the largest social welfare program in the U.S., providing monthly benefits to retired or disabled workers and their families. Since the Obama Administration is proposing a public option health care program, we wanted to take a look at current government-run programs. Do you trust folks in Washington handling all of your coverage and how well do government agencies operate and treat you?
More than 3,000,000 Texans receive Social Security.
Grace Bird's husband just passed away so she had to file a death certificate with the Administration.
"[I'm here to] get the burial benefits...that go along with it," said Bird.
The Tyler district, which includes Smith, Henderson, Van Zandt, Wood, Anderson and Cherokee counties pay out more than $1,200,000 each year in benefits.
"I really don't know what people would do without Social Security," said Bird. "It's been a help to my husband and I for several years now."
But, many middle-income families say Social Security can't help them. Arcelia Tullos' son is disabled and it's a constant struggle.
"It's kind of hard because we trying to provide for him but at the same time, if you do, he doesn't qualify," said Tullos. "They just told us he would not be eligible for medicaid because of my income and my husband's income."
Then, there are concerns that funds will just dry-up. Last month, seniors learned they won't receive a cost of living increase.
"I'm kind of worried about what my kids and grand kids are going to have to do to put into the thing to keep it where the old folks who really need it can get it," said Rodney Bird.
And, while dealing with and filing for Social Security is necessary, it's not always easy.
"Every year you have to go through all that red tape," said Cameron Newman.
"I got a letter from the Social Security in Kansas City and they didn't explain everything," said William Buffa.
"It's just so time consuming," said Tullos. "If you had to sit down sometimes you have to make an appointment. That's the frustrating part of it I think...it moves so slow."
"Don't come at the first of the month," said Buffa. "I've been here on the first of the month and I've been there four hours."
However, upgrades and added features to the Social Security web site are chipping away at some of those frustrations.
In Grade Your Government: Social Security Part 2, we will reveal grades given to the Social Security Administration.
Something you can do right now is grade Social Security on KLTV.com by clicking here. You can also leave comments below.