BY DAVID MCNALLY
AARP New York Manager of Government Affairs
Social Security’s benefits have been a rock-solid commitment to American families and a cornerstone of our society for 75 years. This year marked the first time Social Security recipients did not receive a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), and leaders of a bipartisan deficit commission recently proposed changes to Social Security that would increase the age limit and reduce the same Cost of Living Adjustment.
In just the past few years, many Americans have seen their private retirement investments drop or even flat line. With unemployment at an all-time high, personal savings at their lowest, and pensions declining, there has never been a better time to take a hard look at what Social Security means to people now and in their future.
Recently, AARP, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, released new research on New Yorkers’ perceptions of Social Security and its role in their retirement planning. The results were clear – New Yorkers are concerned about Social Security, and it is a top tier issue
Only 19 percent of New Yorkers said they were very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years. The vast majority (89 percent) agreed that Social Security will be or is important to their retirement income, and more than half of beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries said they would either not be able to afford basics or would have to make significant sacrifices without Social Security. Most troublesome to those surveyed was their concern for future generations with almost three quarters saying they have little or no confidence that their children and grandchildren will have a secure retirement.
Americans have been paying into Social Security for 75 years with the guarantee that, in return, they will receive a benefit when they are ready to retire. Today, more than 3.2 million Americans, including 294,000 living in Queens, receive Social Security benefits. Social Security makes up 90 percent of family income for more than 23 percent of New Yorkers age 65 or older. Social Security not only lifts retirees from poverty and is a foundation for middle class retirees but also pumps over $3.6 billion into New York’s economy each month.
As a national discussion on the future of Social Security begins, let us not forget the real people who have not only paid into Social Security but are relying on this benefit to meet their basic needs. Now, more than ever, we need Social Security.
The survey of New Yorkers is part of a national project called Social Security: Voices and Values.
For more information, visit www.aarp.org/SocialSecurityVoicesandValues.
Social Security Survey
BY DAVID MCNALLY