A Jan. 9 letter

("Cautions residents to scrutinize politicians' comments") stated, "Both parties for many years have been borrowing money from the Social Security funds and not paying it back. Why cannot the members in Washington pass a law that the only time money can be used from the Social Security account is for Social Security benefits"

As I see it, the writer is spreading a political sound bite that is completely false.

As I understand it, the truth is that the surplus taken in by the Social Security trust fund is invested in government bonds that are legally obligated to pay a stated interest rate and to return the principal when they mature. This has been the law since Social Security started. The government spends this money as part of its general fund and it's obligated to pay it back.

If you buy a bond or put money in a savings account, the exact same thing happens. The organization that takes your investment money uses it for its own purposes and promises to back you back a certain rate of return.

The Social Security surplus has to be invested somewhere to generate the returns that allow for paying benefits greater than a person's contributions and to keep the fund solvent. U.S. government bonds are the safest investments available. Should they invest in stocks instead?

In reality, by loaning the surplus to the government, Social Security is using the excess money it collects to help maintain everyone's benefits.

Steve Rogers, Macedonia