EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Our Grade Your Government series continues with East Texan's scores for the Social Security Administration. In Grading Your Government: Social Security Part 1, we heard from some satisfied beneficiaries. As well as some people who are frustrated with the system. Remember, we're doing this in light of a proposal that would offer government-run health insurance. The goal is to see what that public healthcare option may be like.
Now, we reveal East Texan's grades and the Social Security Administration's response. Most East Texans we met were pleased with the service they received here at the Tyler Social Security Office.
"'A' is the service I got today!" said Grace Bird.
"I'd say a today...it was quick and easy," said Anita Garrett.
Betty Bird also gave our highest score "A" for excellent.
"People were nice and accommodating and it was easy," she said.
William Buffa found out he is getting a nice chunk of change from Uncle Sam.
"I was scared," he began. "I thought they were taking my money, but the lady behind the counter explained that ain't the way it is. They're adding to my money. That was a nice surprise. Yes, it was it was a great surprise. I'm real pleased with them they've helped me out tremendously."
"I'd give them an A+," said Buffa.
But of course, they can't all be perfect.
"I'd probably have to give them a 'B' or a 'C+,'" said Brandon Withers. "There's probably room for improvement...maybe bigger offices."
Cameron Newman, a retired school bus driver, says she can't receive all of her benefits. Money she says she's entitled to.
"So...F," she said. "I have a state retirement and because I have a state retirement they take it from my Social Security. Every year I have to fill out an application to let them know that I have not gotten any extra money and I think that is stupid."
But, District Manager Leo Rossler explains their hands are tied.
"There's something called a government pension off-set and that's set in the law and we're required to do that," he explained.
Remember Arcelia Tullos, who says her family's income is just over the line so they don't qualify for coverage for their disabled son? Rossler says there's no leeway in the law - even if you're a penny over.
"It's almost like the policeman," said Rossler. "If you go over the speed limit he has to give you a ticket so what we have to do is to apply the law and regulations fairly and equally for everyone."
As for frustrations about long lines and wait times, Rossler says their website, www.socialsecurity.gov lets you file online now, making it more convenient.
"There's an online estimator where you can see how much you can draw at any age," he explained. "You can project your current earnings and future earnings to get a benefit amount for future planning."
it has gotten better. Now that you can go online and do a lot of things."
Rossler admits financing is an issue congress will likely deal with over the next few years... But he believes social security benefits will always flow to those in need.
"Social security will be here for the next generation," said . "I will tell anyone that it will be. It may be a little different, but it's always changed over the years...it will be here because it has the economic stability of this country is dependent a lot on the Social Security Administration and the benefits we pay."
Now, to reveal the average grades. The average grade from those who took our test at the office is a "B." Pretty good. And, we also tallied up grades from all of you who participated online and that average came to a "C."
Financial planning tips:
It's never too early to start saving and Social Security was never intended to be our sole source of income after retirement. Leo Rossler says Social Security should only be a third of your financial planning and that, in fact, many East Texans are deferring their retirement - working past retirement age to try and earn additional benefits.