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The AP reported a so-called “historic shift” yesterday. According to one analysis, some of today’s retirees will have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire.

So is Social Security a bad deal? No way! Just looking at a few examples misses the bigger picture. When you put money into Social Security, you’re buying inflation-protected, guaranteed lifetime income that is not subject to market risk. That’s not something you can get from any other retirement plan.

You don’t have to worry about outliving your money – Social Security will be there for you and your spouse for your lifetimes. In today’s economy – with high unemployment, fewer jobs offering pensions and people struggling to save for retirement – Social Security offers a steady, reliable source of income that you can count on.

For those who think they can get a better deal with private investments – think again. While the Great Recession was decimating the retirement savings of millions of Americans, millions of retirees continued to receive the guaranteed, inflation-protected Social Security benefit they earned. It’s important to remember that private investments cannot substitute for Social Security. Social Security represents the guaranteed base of retirement income and should be supplemented with personal savings, 401ks and other investment options.

The current reality is that Social Security is the largest source of income for most retirees. And the truth is that more than 1 in 3 working households age 21-64 today has no individual savings set aside for retirement. So rather than being a bad deal, Social Security will be more important than ever for younger generations.

That’s why AARP thinks we need to start talking NOW about the future of Social Security – before there’s a crisis. Visit You’ve Earned a Say and make sure Washington hears from you today. With a few meaningful changes, we can ensure future generations receive the benefits they’ve earned and have the critical foundation they will need for their own retirement security.