by Arlene G. Feldmeier

Social Security and Medicare. Boring topics, probably, if you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s. Not so boring if you’re older than that. But I urge everyone to read this because Social Security is under attack and that affects us all. Everyone.

First, Social Security isn’t just for retired people. It’s insurance with benefits for children if they’re disabled or if they lost a parent. There are benefits for disabled adults. For widows and widowers. For workers’ disabled adult children. For millions of Americans of all ages, Social Security is a lifeline. I hope you never need this insurance payout, just as I hope you never need, say, a payout from your car insurance because you had an accident. But the Social Security payment from your paycheck covers you, and your family.

Medicare is government-funded health insurance for the elderly and disabled. You may have heard that Medicare can now negotiate drug prices with drug companies. That will save a lot of people a lot of money. You may have also heard that Social Security benefits are in for a big increase. Also welcome news.

But here’s the problem: right now, Social Security and Medicare are under attack. Republican leaders like Kevin McCarthy and, yes, our own Elise Stefanik, want to cut Social Security or ditch it entirely. McCarthy said so, then quickly backpedaled. So did Stefanik, his most loyal supporter. But make no mistake: don’t vote for Stefanik or anyone who’d put Social Security on the chopping block.

Think about it. If that happened, expect horrible suffering for anyone who depends on Social Security and Medicare. And guess what. The rest of us would have to make up the difference for our friends and family. Not just that, but what happens to our healthcare system and our communities? Hospitals close, healthy people get sick, stores close, taxes skyrocket, our local economy hits rock bottom.

So, if you younger readers still think “this doesn’t apply to me”, hear my story. My hard-working father was killed in a horrible accident. He was around one day and gone the next. Social Security came thru for my mother and me, and I’ve always been grateful. Years later, I was honored to return the favor, serving 23 years as a lawyer for the Social Security Administration, and years since representing clients seeking Social Security benefits.

The stories I can tell: the energetic single mother of 2 hit with debilitating arthritis, now receiving monthly checks for herself and her kids. The young vet dying of throat cancer but knowing his family would be supported. The stroke victim whose years of SSA income and paid physical therapy helped him get back to work.

I hope I’ve convinced any doubters that Social Security and Medicare are worth saving. I also hope I’ve convinced all of you that any Social Security opponent, including Elise Stefanik, doesn’t deserve your vote. By the way, her opponent, Matt Castelli is deeply committed to protecting and expanding Social Security and deserves your vote, explaining “I don’t trust her with my parent’s Social Security and Medicare”.

Arlene G. Feldmeier is a partner at Feldmeier & Feldmeier, Attorneys at Law in Little Falls.