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AARP to Congress: Avoid Default, Protect Social Security and Medicare

As the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing the interests of Americans age 50 and older and their families, AARP is urging Congress to take steps to avoid default on our national debt and avoid risking benefits for current Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries or the health of our fragile economy.

AARPs Protect Seniors Medicare/Social SecurityOlder Americans care very deeply about our country, and many are grandparents who feel a sense of stewardship and responsibility to make sure that their grandchildren enjoy the same opportunities and benefits our great nation has provided to them.  At the same time, millions of older Americans rely every day on their Social Security and Medicare and deserve reassurance that the benefits they have worked over a lifetime to earn are secure.

To meet those twin goals, it is critical that the United States does not default on its debt and that we protect the Social Security and Medicare benefits of current retirees. As everyone knows, the United States government has never defaulted on its debt, and U.S. Treasury bonds are widely considered one of the, if not the, safest investments in the world because of it. Honoring the full faith and credit of the United States is a core value of our country and fundamental to the economic security of our nation. As such, the impact of defaulting on any U.S. debt obligation would be felt by all Americans, not just those on Social Security and Medicare.

In addition, delays in raising the debt limit may unnecessarily increase borrowing costs, negatively affect retirement savings accounts and harm our fragile economy. Consequently, we strongly urge Congress to make sure that the debt limit of the United States government not be breached and that the full faith and credit of the United States continue to apply to all debt obligations held by the government.

While we know older Americans are deeply concerned about the nation’s fiscal health, we also know that they want to make sure the promises made to them regarding Medicare and Social Security are honored and the safety net of Medicaid is protected. Our members are worried that the benefits they have earned may be cut as part of a deal to reduce the deficit, fund government operations or increase the debt ceiling, and they are increasingly worried that if there is no agreement very soon, they may not receive their Social Security checks and may lose access to their health care.

Millions of Americans rely heavily, or even completely, on the benefits they earned and receive from Social Security. Equally, millions of older Americans rely on Medicare to meet their critical health care needs. A loss or even diminishment of these benefits would be truly devastating and the well-being of millions of Americans would be put in significant jeopardy.

AARP urges Congress to find a quick resolution to the debt-ceiling crisis without putting at risk the Social Security and Medicare benefits that older Americans have earned and need.

This post was adapted from a letter that AARP sent to members of Congress on Monday, Oct. 7.


Photo: John Wilkes Studio/Corbis