That AARP finds strong support for Social Security from retired seniors and about-to-retire Baby Boomers isn’t too big of a surprise.
But it finds strong support from the younger Americans who might be years from becoming eligible. Their feeling, according to AARP, is “Maybe I won’t need Social Security when I retire, but I definitely want to know it’s there just in case I do.”
AARP, the giant advocacy group for Americans 50 years and older, surveyed Americans as part of Social Security’s 70th anniversary, something it has done at previous anniversaries at 50 and 60.
It asked the same questions this time it did in its previous surveys. It stayed away from the policy questions having to do with what might happen to Social Security, a hot topic now as the country debates how to handle a large and growing deficit.
“The purpose of this research is not to test policy options; it is to explore values and attitudes that shape public reaction to proposed changes in policy,” said AARP.
Those attitudes, it said, should help shape the public policy.
If that is the case, then the attitude favors Social Security as not something to make wholesale change to.
Here’s a brief rundown on some of the many findings:
65 percent regard Social Security as one of the most important government programs;
86 percent say it should continue as a program to assist retired people;
Approximately 9 in 10 non-retired Americans agree (91 percent in 1995 and 88 percent in 2005) that “Maybe I won’t need Social Security when I retire, but I definitely want to know it’s there just in case I do”;
- Nearly 9 in 10 of the nonretired (87 percent in 1995 and 85 percent in 2005) believe that it is important to continue to contribute to Social Security for the common good;
- Social Security was named second only to money accumulated through savings and investments as a source of retirement income, relied on/plan to rely on by nearly three quarters (74%) of the respondents (compared to 78 percent for savings/investments);
- As far as the single most relied upon source of income is concerned, payments from Social Security came in first at 30 percent, with savings/investments and 401(k) tying for second place at 18 percent each … Pension payments came next at 14 percent.
Both Social Security and Medicare are being examined by an 18-member, bipartisan commission charged with finding ways to cut the federal government’s $1.5 trillion budget deficit and $13.3 trillion debt. The panel is due to report in December, with possible congressional action to follow.
Already, defenders of Social Security are lobbying against changes to the program, such as benefit reductions or an increase in the retirement age, now headed to 67.
The Social Security trust fund won’t run dry until 2037, according to a new report from its trustees. That’s the same projection that was issued last year.