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Say ‘I support Social Security’

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
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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February 06, 2013 at 11:05 am

You guys are so...
Create some real jobs in America. Increase the import tax on products from the 30%...which NOBODY pays, to 150% NO LOOP HOLES. I will show you how fast Jobs get created back here in America.
Raise the cap this has been done many times before.
Stop with this alien work 18 quarters then move back to Ecuador or Columbia or Chile whatever.

February 06, 2013 at 9:47 am

The article implies that "you PAY into social security" as if you elect to do that. It is taken/confiscated from your wages before you even get your paycheck. Hence, it should not be called an entitlement. People cannot choose to opt out of it. Therefore, my spouse and I are getting our money back now. For how long, only God knows that. And I mean the real God, the Creator of the universe, not the faux (g)od a.k.a. federal government.

February 05, 2013 at 11:45 pm

To clarify an earlier point the politician made,,,, SOME of the "greedy geezers" that he mentioned are people that when the S S System was enacted and put in place only paid into it for a few months or a few years and then were AT retirement age and are living off of it for decades!!! There has to be a better way...

THAT Isn’t Fair is it??
Neither is life

February 05, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I fail to understand why the American public is expected to keep their finances in order but the government we live under finds it so hard to keep the finances of the country in order, i.e. Social Security.

February 05, 2013 at 8:59 pm


February 05, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I am not finished. I know people that get like $10,000 back for income tax & at least $5,000 of it is for their earned income credit for THEIR DEPENDANTS, not the GOVERNMENTS DEPENDANTS, children that they wanted & had, children that they should be responsible for instead of being paid to take care of. Imagine a couple thousand dollars from each of the billions of people that gets this credit. That is ALL we would need to guarantee social security would last alot longer. FOLKS, I don't know about you all but I would rather have the money when I am older & can't work to support my family, then now when I am capable of working. The people that get this credit ends up making a whole lot more then alot of people that actually work very hard for their money. Just think of what they make a year & then this credit on top of that adds up to alot more than they actually worked for. Some people just keep having kids for the money! Years ago they didn't do this credit & people had to take responsibility for their own kids & pay their way. Now the government will give you alot more money than you pay in for your kids that you should be taking care of yourself.

February 05, 2013 at 8:42 pm

HELLO PEOPLE!!!!Take away all this earned income tax from all these people that keep having kids just to keep getting it. If you have a child it's your place to take care of & pay for it. If you can't you shouldn't have children. But no, insead our goverment will pay you to have children.How stupid! It's nice while you get it, but when you can't have anymore kids & yours are grown, it would be nicer for that to have gone toward your social security. They could take ALL this earned income credit money & put into social security. I know people that get like $10,000 & they make descent money. So once they get their earned income for their kids, they make more money then alot of people that work very hard for their money. AND these people that are working so hard now that don't get earned income have to worry if there will even be any social security for them when they rire & can't work anymore? CRAZY!!!Earned income is for taking care of your dependant children, but aren't you supposed to take care of the kids you have anyways? Aren't they your responsibility? WHY does our stupid government pay you to take care of your own kids? It sure would be alot nicer if our social security was guaranteed when we get older. DUHHH! just take all the earned income money & put it into social security. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS WOULD HELP? We can't afford more to keep coming out of our paychecks but pay not going up & everything going up in price. It is not that hard people!

Dino Baldanza
February 05, 2013 at 7:53 pm

How does Jerome get to pay 12% of his income? Is he self-employed? If self-employed 50% of his contribution is a credit in
his AGI. Defending Social Security does not mean defending Congress. Someone should have stomped on Congress in 1980 when it
was decided that excess deposits to FICA be transferred to Treasury. Congress has stolen money from the american taxpayer. Their retirement plan should be cancelled and the monies transferred to Social Security while at the same time legislation prohibiting the future raiding of FICA funds.

February 05, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I am 66 and have paid into Social Security all of my work life. My SS report shows that through 2011 I have paid in $51,525 and my employers have paid in $52,435. I am fortunate to now have a job after 9 months of unemployment, thus making it abundantly clear to me how difficult it is to stay employed as we age. If the Social Security program is not being adequately funded with workers' contributions, the amount we pay should be increased. In fact, the two-year "tax reduction" we all got through the reduction of our Social Security taxes made no sense to me when the fund was already in trouble. Not everyone can be a successful investor and make the stock market and IRAS work for them, not everyone even has a chance to try being a successful investor. The Social Security program should be strengthened by removing the cap on the wages on which the taxes are charged, the rate we have to pay should be slightly increased, and it should be shored up and made strong so that everyone can count on Social Security as a big part of their retirement benefits. And I AM entitled to my Social Security, which I intend to begin collecting at age 70 if I can continue to work until then, because over $100,000 has been paid into the fund on my behalf. If the government had properly invested the money it has been collecting all these years, solvency of the Social Security fund would not be such a hot issue!

Jerome Barry
February 05, 2013 at 4:16 pm

As you know, in the U.S. Social Security is a government program in which the young (up to age 70, in some cases) are taxed.
The FICA Tax is taken from each workers pay. The employer doubles it and sends it all to the Social Security Administration. Each month, the Social Security Administration writes millions of checks and mails them out to recipients of all ages, from less than 1 year to the oldest centenarian in the country. These days, much of that is done electronically, but the money still gets sent out. In some months, the Social Security Administration receives more money than it plans to spend, and all the excess money is given to the U.S. Treasury which then spends it.
In a file cabinet in Virginia is recorded the monthly sums transferred to Treasury, and Congress has promised to give that sum back to the Social Security Administration if ever monthly inflow fall below monthly outgo. This system was put in place during the 1980's. For the two most recent years, Social Security outgo has exceeded income and the Treasury has refunded some of the previously transferred and already spent money. Treasury had to sell debt to do that, and the Federal Reserve has been buying 90% of all Treasury debt for the past 2 years. At the moment, Feb 5, 2013, there is no earthly limit to the amount of debt that can be sold by the Treasury. Each year, the Trustees of Social Security issue a report describing the fiscal state of the program. For the past several years, the Trustees have been stating that Social Security would exhaust the call on Treasury debt for outgo spending some time in the future. Curiously, each year the Trustees report, the date of exhaustion draws 2 years closer. Projecting this forward, in about 5 years the income of Social Security will equal the outgo and be about 78% of what the outgo is now. At the moment, I receive nothing from Social Security and I, on penalty of imprisonment, am coerced to pay 12% of my income into Social Security. None of that money is mine and I have no claim on any of it. I'm relatively young, as baby boomers go, and I am certain, because the Trustees of Social Security have said so, that I will be denied the promised benefits of Social Security.

I don't have to call defenders of Social Security "greedy geezers". They are. They know they are. And they don't care.