If the Debt Ceiling Isn’t Raised, I Will Go Broke

FIRST PERSON | The president announced Tuesday that Social Security checks may not go out as planned on Aug. 3 if the debt ceiling is not raised. Obama’s statement carries weight because of his stalled negotiations with House Republicans, who will not raise the ceiling unless riders to reduce spending are attached. An unprecedented default on the debt could potentially reverse the flailing recovery and send economic markets into a tailspin. Government programs would be the hardest hit by a default, the largest of which are Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits, of which an estimated 70 million Americans receive.

The debt ceiling directly affects me in two major ways. I am a government employee and work for the Social Security Administration; if the debt ceiling is not raised by Aug. 2, I worry that I will not have enough money to pay my bills. If beneficiaries are not paid, we will not be paid because we are paid from that same revenue. I would still have to go to work because it is not like the budget issues we faced earlier this year.

During the budget crisis, government employees would have been furloughed until a budget is passed. Under an unrevised debt ceiling, we would still have to go to work, because our pay is guaranteed, just not when promised. I rely heavily on my paycheck to get through the month. My wife stays at home and takes care of our child, and I work to support the three of us. A delayed paycheck for me may cause me to default on loans or miss paying rent because I still live paycheck to paycheck.

Social Security is my livelihood because it’s my job. It’s my job to make sure that people get the service they need. If beneficiaries are concerned they will not receive their benefits, they will contact my office for assistance. I would help them as much as I could, but this would take time away from helping others who need routine help, such as filing an application for benefits.

The other reason the debate affects me is I also receive VA compensation payments. I was injured in Afghanistan in 2006 in an IED explosion. I rely on the veterans benefits to help me pay bills because my small government paycheck is not enough to pay off everything I owe. Without these benefits, I would not be able to stay on top of all of my bills and would go broke because I would have to pay bills out of my savings account.

Personally, I think the debt ceiling will be raised and this is an attempt by the White House to pressure Congress to action. But if it isn’t, the consequences of their inaction could be dire for me and over 70 million other people who rely on the government as their sole source of income.