Cut Social Security? Say Goodbye to Older Voters

Seventy-nine years after its creation, Social Security remains a vital key to Americans’ retirement security. And with the 2014 elections less than three months away, strengthening the program is a top priority for older voters, according to a new AARP survey of voters 50 and older. The message to candidates is clear: Stop treating Social Security like a line item in a budget.

Social_Security_CardsOlder voters have earned their benefits through a lifetime of hard work and paying into the system. They’re looking for candidates who will offer substantive plans to strengthen Social Security for them and their kids and grandkids.

Candidates should take note of survey results from hotly contested Senate races in Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan and North Carolina:

More than 74 percent of voters 50-plus said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported cuts to Social Security to reduce the deficit. Yet for the past few years, we’ve heard much talk from Washington about how to cut Social Security as part of a budget deal. This couldn’t be more out of step with voters’ priorities. The program – self-financed and separate from the rest of the federal budget – is too important to be lumped into the general budget debate.

The continual focus on cuts ignores the fact that retirees are struggling to make ends meet as it is.

70 percent of retirees surveyed said the current yearly Social Security cost of living adjustment of 1.5 percent isn’t keeping up with their expenses on essentials like health care, housing, food and utilities. With benefits already barely enough to keep retirees afloat, cuts could push millions of seniors underwater.

Near-retirees can’t afford benefit cuts either. In our survey, large majorities of boomers in every state said their incomes were falling behind the cost of living.

Things have gotten so bad that nearly 50 percent of non-retirees reported having already delayed retirement or having plans to do so because of a lack of savings. With the average boomer having only $25,000 put away for retirement, when retirement age finally does come, they’ll need every penny of their benefits to make ends meet.

For millions of older Americans, Social Security is a lifeline – the only thing standing between them and a life in poverty. Rarely talked about is the importance of the benefit (on average $1,200 per month) to the financial security of the middle class. Two-thirds of seniors get at least half of their income from Social Security.

We hear about Social Security’s critical role every day in letters, emails, phone calls and more from people around the country. Some recent comments from our AARP Advocates Facebook page tell the story:

“I need Social Security just to get by paying monthly bills.”

“Please do not cut any more from the ones that need it the most. Everyone should be able to receive what they have worked for.”

“Leave our Social Security and Medicare alone. We are barely able to get by on it!”

Here’s the bottom line: Current retirees are saying their COLA doesn’t keep up with their expenses. With so many pensions going the way of the dinosaur, boomers are struggling to save for the future. It’s time for candidates to take a stand against cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit and for protecting it for current seniors and strengthening it for their kids and grandkids.

When voters enter the voting booth this fall, Social Security will be on their minds. Our surveys make clear their views on the issue. Candidates would be wise to listen up.


 

Nancy LeaMond

 

Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP’s State and National Group, leads government relations, advocacy and public education for AARPs social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARPs state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.

 

 

23 comments
gm22543934
gm22543934 5pts

Agree.  Defense budget is approx. 55% of total.  SS about 4%.   Ridiculous. 

zebsmom
zebsmom 5pts

I'd really rather not see social security cut, but people do need to realize reality. Yes, we've all contributed throughout our working life. But. Add it up. 15% of our income per year doesn't go very far. For me, every dime my employers and I have contributed over a 40+ year work history would be exhausted in just over 3 years. Most of us collect/will collect for far more years. And I don't have a dependent spouse or child. If that were the case, I'd exhaust my contributions in barely over a year. 

Think about it. 

There also aren't 5 workers for every retiree-like the system was designed for. Also, keep in mind, in 1935, they didn't think about coverage for disabled people.

thelma122
thelma122 5pts

please do not cut  social security  any more I have time to live on what I do get with out any cut. please help.

bb75751588
bb75751588 5pts

For the last two years I've had NOTHING but ABSOLUTE disgust for current senators, reps and the President. (and I voted for Obama twice!)


I've experienced political disappoint since putting the Dems into office (and power), but not as much as recently! A Democrat all of my life, January, 2014,I registered as a Republican! I'm supporting Republican candidates and giving them finanical support as well as working for local Republican candidates!


This is sad, especially since we did NOT make any money under Republicans, but currently, we ARE NOT making any under the Dems! We seem to be earning less and losing more $ AND freedoms. SAVE the USA! Vote Republican. TAKE THAT CLAIRE MACCASKILL!

ann021939
ann021939 5pts

I really, can't see where the 1.5 percent raise we got this year. My RX went up, so did my Medicare. So I ended

up in the hole. 

dorenebecker
dorenebecker 5pts

Another sore point is to go inside a Social Security Office and see how many older people there are and then count the number of younger people, often with little kids in tow.  If the government wants to support those underage people then it should be out of some special fund set up in the General Budget and not from the fund that all of us legitimate retirees have paid into for a lifetime of work.

deweve
deweve 5pts

Why can't the younger men and women work like we did, instead of sitting around getting everything handed out to them.  I enjoyed working, being independent and saving (Social Security) for my later years.  I don't expect a hand-out and I an tired of seeing people that are able to work doing nothing and getting paid for it.  In the grocery stores I see young people with buggy loads of food, etc..  paying for it with food stamps.  Most of them are very obese, but young enough to be out working for food instead of getting it free.  


Where is their pride?  The pride our people once had in our country is gone!!

It's time our Senators and Congressmen, along with the President,  provided more jobs for the middle class people of America and put the people back to working to provide for themselves.  I am now 81 years old and I need the Social Security I worked for to live on. 

outtheresomewhere
outtheresomewhere 5pts

I don't see what the big issue about Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid is all about ! ! !

  Our countries governmental political houses only take care of themselves and wait until it is time for that election year vote to stir up the masses by bringing up the subject of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and how they are planning to (screw it up) fix it for the seniors. So that way they get them riled up and get that vote from them. When they throw the seniors a dog biscuit of a fix. While that is going on. They're all behind closed doors increasing their own benefits by a much larger increase/fix. Why should they care about the seniors benefits, since, they don't even have to use them. Why do you think these politicians fight to stay in office way up into their senior years? ? ? They get FREE government paid medical and health benefits. Medical bills are paid for by  tax payer taxes. Not counting all the other benefits you the people don't know your paying for that they (and their family) utilize. Oh; and well, don't vote them into office again ??? They have done locked in their retirement income from you the tax payer with those YEARLY COLA ( Cost Of Living Allocations) increases. If I was getting $80,00.00+ a yearly retirement (and free medical coverage). I would not need Social Security or Medicare either. DUH ! ! ! ! !

jo1117
jo1117 5pts

Please be specific as to State and Districts of members (or candidates) who need to be contacted.  I am always confounded by the "government is evil" contingent who take marching orders from special interests who get more from the federal government than any of us can fathom.  

mc7445
mc7445 5pts

The only way to change congress is to stop voting by political party, be independent and support individuals that support social security and Medicare. Always VOTE

rthornto1954
rthornto1954 5pts

I believe some very wealthy should not receive their benefits. Their benefits should be "donated" back into the benefits pool. Now, this a extremely small group, but the idea that they have a real "need" is beyond me. I can't fathom based on need, and a needs based test isn't that hard to understand..why a multimillionaire and billionaire need benefits. It's not based on fair earnings in one's lifetime. Yes, they paid equally into the system. But, they won the earnings and wealth game. I don't care about the millions they have donated for other causes. It's about the original principle.

rebalcha
rebalcha 5pts

This matter does not make me unhappy, it gets me so mad, how these people think to cut the social security when it is money I already save; it was taken from me during the time I was working; this is not a gift, it just returned because it belongs to me. No pseudo politician can even mention to cut the social security!!! if he has any value of honesty. 

bcampbell34
bcampbell34 5pts

That makes me very unhappy that they want to cut social security. I worked all my life so I could get it. Now I depend on what I get and they want to cut the little amount I get no way. I would not vote for anyone who wants to do that to all the people that depend on the amount they are receiving. Leave the social security alone.

myexper
myexper 5pts

The article states that there is "talk from Washington about how to cut Social Security as part of a budget deal".

What the article fails to state is that the desire to cut Social Security benefits and tie Social Security into the budget is a Republican plan.


Social Security will be strong IF the $2.8 trillion borrowed from it by the government is paid back. And therein lies the problem and the Republican declaration that Social Security be tied into the budget and the nation's deficit.

Over a year ago, Social Security no longer took in more than it paid out in benefits. So, to maintain CURRENT benefits, the government must now start paying back the $2.8 trillion borrowed from Social Security. Rather than paying back this money, Republicans would rather reduce current benefits ......  starting with the use of the Chained CPI to cut COLA increases and then followed by means testing.


Social Security did nothing to create the deficit. The money borrowed from Social Security should not be used as a means to reduce the deficit. This money IS the money seniors put into the Social Security system all their working lives and relied on it returning to them in their retirement.

If you want to see Social Security remain strong and keep your current benefits and keep your traditional Medicare, keep the Republicans and its Tea Party leaches out of Washington!


Any senior who votes Republican will be voting to have their Social Security benefits cut (up to complete elimination by means testing).  The Republicans also plan to eliminate traditional Medicare, as contained within their budget which the Republican controlled House passed several times already. Fortunately, the Democrat majority Senate voted down and stopped the Republican plan to eliminate traditional Medicare each time the Republican controlled House passed their despicable budget.


But if the Republicans control both the House and Senate as well as the office of President, your Social Security benefits will be enormously cut up to complete elimination and your Medicare will also be eliminated.

ef6175
ef6175 5pts

It is not enough to protest budget cuts to Senior cash helps. We need to show we are mature in our protests by offering alternatives that will help the budge better.     "IF it won't do to cut SSA, then What will?"   We can help win here.  There is a LIST of things that are not so hard to do that can be done and are not being done.  They are things that we used to do;  they are things that other nations do that WORK and keep their money in better shape.   Seniors should gather to promote these alternatives to having our lives threatened by SSA budget cuts.

cms45
cms45 5pts

We are the ones who are having benefits cut being older but the people in think they are in power are GIVING  HANDOUTS to the individuals who NEVER work.   WE ARE THE ONES WHO PAID OUR DUES NOT THE LAZY INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE LIVING OFF OF US.

myexper
myexper 5pts

@gm22543934 

Actually, Social Security is not part of the Federal Budget (General Fund). It is a separate account from the General Fund, and has its own source of income ("Payroll Tax"). As such, Social Security has done nothing to create the Federal Budget deficit. The Feds, however, have borrowed nearly  $3 trillion from the Social Security Fund. And therein is where Republicans tie Social Security into the budget deficit. In order to maintain payout of current Social Security benefits, the Feds must start paying back the near $3 trillion dollars borrowed from Social Security. Republicans would rather reduce Social Security benefits than pay back Social Security the money borrowed from it.

The contrived tie in of Social Security funding to Federal Budget funding is an excuse to cut Social Security benefits rather than pay back the money borrowed from Social Security.

myexper
myexper 5pts

@bb75751588 

You said that you did not make money under Republicans but now want to support them. This makes no sense. Also, please take a look at all the current economic indicators. The economy has had an enormous recovery after the last Republican administration which threw us into the greatest recession since the great depression. And "Dems" do not have the full "power" you indicate. Currently, the House is controlled by Republicans who passed a budget several times to eliminate your Medicare and tax the middle class to death. Fortunately, the Democrat majority Senate voted down Republican attacks on seniors and the middle class. If the Republicans also control the Senate, you will see your Medicare eliminated and your Social Security benefits reduced up to complete elimination.

Unless you are extremely wealthy, your support of the Republicans you mention is a vote for your own financial destruction, as well as the destruction of your fellow seniors.

myexper
myexper 5pts

@mc7445 

Good points. But remember that it is the Republicans who want to eliminate your traditional Medicare and cut your Social Security benefits.

bino51
bino51 5pts

@rthornto1954 Best to not even start down that road. In the first place, it IS an extremely small group! Few "very wealthy" people have subjected their income to taxation (especially Social Security tax) in the first place. Benefits are based on W-2 earnings and the very wealthy do not receive their income that way, so there's little savings to be gained.  On the other hand, once the politicians get the nose of the "needs test" under the tent the whole camel will come in, and too soon, anyone with an IRA or 401K or a savings account will find their Social Security benefits at risk.

ef6175
ef6175 5pts

@cms45 during my response work days and during a disability, I saw what happens: at the local level where the benefits people meet clients, there is flat-out intimidation, and lying like crazy for the cash.   At the top levels , at the White House, there is flat-out intimidation and lying like crazy for the cash.  Howwww does a sane path become clear and win the moment ?    AARP and other good groups have the power, if they will focus and act and get plenty of media coverage....WE CAN.

myexper
myexper 5pts

@bino51 @rthornto1954 

bino51 is absolutely correct. To make the means testing have any real impact, the income threshold for Social Security benefit reduction would have to be very low. Most all seniors with income outside of Social Security would see their Social Security benefits cut, up to complete elimination. Seniors who saved for retirement would be punished.