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Say ‘I support Social Security’

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Posted: 2 pm ET

Calling Social Security an "entitlement" gets lots of people's dander up.

The word conjures up  thoughts of welfare for the down and out, which is 180 degrees away from the way most people view Social Security. They see it as a retirement plan that they and their employers have contributed to out of every paycheck since they started working at age 16.

Of course, that sentiment isn't universal, and some of the people who don't see Social Security that way are in high places. Former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, whom President Barack Obama tapped in 2010 to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, wrote a nasty letter last year to critics in which he called older people defending Social Security "greedy geezers" who should be ashamed of themselves for putting an unfair financial burden on younger people.

Is that generation gap Simpson describes a true picture of the national view of Social Security? A study released recently by the  National Academy of Social Insurance would suggest that the answer is a resounding "NO."

Here are the results of the nonpartisan research organization's survey conducted in September 2012 of Americans 21 or older. The overwhelming majority say they support Social Security and are willing to pay the taxes it requires.

  • Some 84 percent say they don't mind paying Social Security taxes to support older and disabled people.
  • About 78 percent say if it weren't for Social Security, they would have to spend money directly to support family members.
  • Eighty percent say they pay Social Security taxes because they will benefit from the program themselves.
  • Seventy-five percent think Social Security benefits should be increased to provide a more secure retirement for working people.

These same respondents were offered several alternatives that would make Social Security solvent. This package was preferred (even over the status quo) by every age group, including 76 percent of the silent generation, born before 1946; 71 percent of boomers, born from 1946 to 1964; 73 percent of Generation X, born from 1965 to 1979; and 67 percent of Generation Y, born in 1980 and later.

  • Gradually, over 10 years, eliminate the cap on earnings that are taxed for Social Security. This would mean that the 5 percent of workers who earn more than the cap ($113,700 in 2013) would pay into Social Security throughout the year, as other workers do, and get a modest increase in their benefits as a result.
  • Gradually, over 20 years, raise the Social Security tax rate that workers and employers each pay from 6.2 percent of earnings to 7.2 percent. The rate of increase would be 5 basis points a year. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point. A worker earning $50,000 a year would pay about 50 cents a week more each year.
  • Raise Social Security’s basic minimum benefit so that someone who paid into Social Security for 30 years can retire at 62 or later and receive a Social Security check that puts him above the official U.S. poverty level.
  • Increase Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, to more accurately reflect the level of inflation experienced by older Americans.

Jasmine Tucker, income security senior policy analyst for the National Academy of Social Insurance, says Congress doesn't understand what its constituents think on this issue, so the best thing you can do is to write a letter or send an email to your congressional delegation to make your beliefs clear. She says, "People who support Social Security have a stake in this, and they have to be more proactive."

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18 Comments
armando silva
November 09, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I AGREE WITH MIKE MIGON. I AM ALSO TIRED OF HEARING AND SEEING POLITIANS AND OTHER PEOPLE IN HIGH POSITIONS GET CAUGHT BRAKING THE LAW AND OR SAYING RACIALS SLURS AND THEN SAY I'M SORRY IT WAS A MISTAKE AND THEN RESIGN AND STLL COLLECT THEIR RETIREMENT IN FULL. THEY SHOULD LOSE THEIR RETIREMENT OR AT LEAST HALF.THAT MYSELF I BELIEVE WOULD MAKE THEM THINK TWICE BEFORE DOING OR SAYING SOMETHING WRONG.(DO AWAY WITH THAT LOOPHOLE TO AVOID PROSECUTION. YOU RESIGN YOU LOSE YOUR BENIFITS.)

EDFAB
November 09, 2013 at 11:47 am

1. EVERYONE INTO SS, TEACHERS, POLITICIANS, ETC.
2. SS IS FOR RETIREMENT ACCOUNT, NOT FOR SOCIAL PROGRAMS OR AID.
3. FORM THE SOICIAL PROGRAMS AND WELFARE AID SEPERATED TAX BODY.
4. SAME INCREASE PER YEAR AS OUR POLITICIANS RECEIVE.
5. REMEMBER WE AND OUR EMPLOYER PAID INTO THIS PROGRAM.

Lois
February 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Right On! If the folks who are saying SS is too high, or just for Mooches, Let them rely on them and not the retirement they will be sure they are "entitled" to from the taxpayers for all "their hard work".

Kenneth
February 09, 2013 at 3:05 pm

the goverment could fix it very easy make them get SS and medicare instead of what they get and you will see how fast
they fix it
that is all congress they will fix it in about 2weeks

Carl
February 09, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I've read some good solutions, here's a couple more:
-Since women live more than 4 years longer than men, their benefits should begin at least 4 years later, and/or their rate should be rerduced commensurately to equalize their total anticipated compensation. Since women have demanded equality for decades, only the hypocritical will fight this plan.

-Also, single/childless people pay into SS at the same rate as others do, but get far less out of it:
When they die, their benefits cease and the money which they contributed go back into the general fund for others to use, while family members of married people will get survivors' benefits no matter how old the deceased was, 20 or 100. These benefits would be costly to afford in the private marketplace, but are free to those with family. Also, there is double-dipping of a sort that benefit widows who can collect ALL of their own SS benefits AND some of thier husbands. which can be substantial. Therefore, these loopholes should end and the rates should be greatly increased for all but the single to pay, and/or their rate of pay greatly reduced.

-And, of course SS is no longer just a retirement program, it had morphed into a welfare program as well a long time ago; therefore, it's funding should not be a burden for the workers alone. The rich should pay into it at least at the same rate as the rest of us, and on ALL of their income.

-Lastly, but most importantly, our elected officials should get the same retirement program, not a better one.

Gloria
February 08, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Absolutely agree with Mike & Paul....all politians should be in the SS and medicare programs as well as Obamacare healthcare and the problems would get figured out quickly!!! Our politians should definitely be made accountable for the mess we are in.

mike migon
February 06, 2013 at 3:35 pm

MIKE
I PRETTY MUCH AGREE WITH MOST OF THE COMMENTS THAT PEOPLE HAVE SHARED WITH US. I DO WISH TO SAY,"THAT THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM WOULD NOT BE IN THIS MESS IF IT WASN'T FOR OUR GREEDY GOVERNMENT THINKING OF IT AS THEIR PIGGY BANK TO TAKE MONEY OUT AS THEY PLEASED AND SPENDING IT ON WHATEVER THEY WANTED".IT WAS NEVER MENT TO BE AN 'OPEN ACCOUNT' FOR GOVERNMENT SPENDING.I SAY,THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE SHOULD BE HELD 'ACCOUNTABLE'FOR THEIR ACTIONS AND PAY EITHER BY FINES OR IMPRISONMENT.THIS WOULD PUT A STOP TO ALL OF THE 'WRONG'THINGS OUR GREEDY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE DOING AND GETTING AWAY WITH.WE NEED THEM,(ALL) TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.THEY ARE NO BETTER THAN 'CRIMMENALS'AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH!!!!!

Paul
February 06, 2013 at 2:22 pm

What guarantee that our nuty representitives would not rob the SS bank and leave us worse than we are now!!?? Better idea is to have all government employees including our President be put on the SS system. Bet you would see that there would be enough money for everyone!!!! Health care we have including Medicare should also be part of the politicians requirement. Bet there would be enough money in there as well!!!!