Friday, July 11, 2008

Religious Test For Social Security Benefits?

Apparently the Social Security Administration began a new policy sometime during the Bush Administration that now requires citizens applying for Social Security benefits to respond to a mandatory question concerning religious records that appears to favor religious applicants over non-religious applicants.

According to the June/July 2008 issue of Freethought Today:

The violation came to light when Foundation members in South Dakota applied in person for the husband's benefits. Although he had produced his birth certificate, he was then asked: "Was a religious record of your birth made before you were age 5?" When he objected to answering that invasive question, he was told the application process could not continue unless he answered it, and that all applications nationwide contain the question and require an answer.

Queries to the Social Security Administration have verified the policy.

On behalf of the Foundation and the couple, attorney James A. Friedman has written the Administration asking it to remove the question:

"The question on the application concerning religious records appears to favor religious applicants over non-religious and applicants of certain religious faiths who create such records over others who do not. The Constitution prohibits such favoritism. The application question unnecessarily invades on the privacy interests of applicants, forcing them to divulge information about their and their family's personal religious beliefs or lack of beliefs.

"We ask that the Administration immediately amend the benefit application process to exclude the question concerning religious records of birth for applicants who are able to provide official government records," wrote Friedman.
Thank goodness for the Freedom From Religion Foundation and their efforts to defend The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. You can voice your opinon:

by calling 1-800-772-1213

by visiting

or by mail at:

Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
Windsor Park Building
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235