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We agree: Fix Social Security

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

People who are opposed to changing anything about Social Security are a loudmouthed bunch, but a recent study suggests that all their noise is much ado about nothing. Most reasonable people see the need to fix Social Security and are willing to make changes.

Voice Of the People, a new organization affiliated with the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, polled a representative sampling of voters and concluded that a significant majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents would support four potential fixes to Social Security that together would eliminate 71 percent of the projected shortfall, according to Social Security trustees. Left unfixed, the shortfall will lead to the need for substantial cuts in benefits after 2034 -- a real retirement planning problem.

The four changes endorsed by voters were:

  • About 79 percent approved reducing benefits for the top 25 percent of earners -- those  with average earnings over their lifetimes of about $65,500 a year or more. This would reduce the Social Security shortfall by 7 percent.
  • Some 78 percent would raise the full retirement age to 68, while maintaining the possibility of collecting a greatly reduced amount at age 62, reducing the shortfall by 16 percent.
  • Another 83 percent would raise the cap on income subject to the payroll tax to $215,000, while continuing to pay high earners 15 cents on the dollar in benefits for every dollar they and their employers pay into the system. This would cover 30 percent of the Social Security shortfall.
  • Finally, 75 percent would increase the payroll tax rate for both workers and employers from 6.2 percent to 6.6 percent. This would reduce the shortfall by 18 percent.

A smaller majority -- 52 percent -- would completely remove the cap on wages subject to Social Security -- while still paying high earners benefits worth 15 cents on every dollar they and their employers pay in. Adopting this and the other proposals would totally eliminate any shortfall.

Steven Kull, author of the report and senior research fellow at the University of Maryland, says he wasn't surprised that people were willing to endorse a solution to Social Security's problems, but he was surprised that Republicans, Democrats and Independents all had similar opinions about how to fix Social Security.

"Our leaders need to treat the public like adults and assume that they have the capacity to understand the issue and relate to it in an intelligent way," Kull says.

If you'd like to take the same poll that this group took, you can go to VOP.org and click on "Try a Simulation." Keep in mind that these proposed changes would not affect the promised benefits for people who are older than 48 years of age in 2014.

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15 Comments
Marvin Baron
February 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

The Government should pay back all that it borrowed from the Social Security Fund and be disallowed from ever borrowing again.
The original plan for the fund was to be an Insurance Program and invest in U.S. controlled Bonds such as FHA Bonds. Treasury Bonds, etc., then the monies paid in would earn interest just like the Life Insurance Companies.
The abuses on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are many and costs all of us untold amount of money and while we do investigate and prosecute those who criminalize t6he system, its not enough and should be increased.
I am almost 86 years old and I have been paying into the fund since discharge from WW2 and I still work as a 1099'er and pay taxes into the fund and believe it or not the checks I receive from Social security are also taxed (double taxation). Lastly there are many people receiving money from Social Security who never contributed they received what is called Social security Supplement: Some need the help but others from my past & immediate experience do not and there are more than we know.

Gary
February 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm

if the government would stop taking money out of Social security
and putting it in the general fund to spend, there would be no problem If I would have put the money I gave the government and invested it I would be a millionaire or close to it at just 5% interest.

meatwad
February 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Hey, the gov needed to take that $ from SS so we could buy those neat new aircraft carriers and nuke subs. Not to mention those soon to be obsolete fighter jets. Don't you feel safer?

jwsquared
February 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm

At one time I would have agreed with most of these, but now that I have paid the maximum into SS all my life and am nearing retirement, I intend to get as much out of the program is possible. Thus, I oppose any reductions in the amount I will receive, which as this article points out will only be a fraction of what I have put into the system.

Denise
February 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Canada abolished their SS years ago. Those poor old folks with no pension from work wound up on welfare. Hope it doesn't come to that.

Tom
February 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm

This is great...work until we are 68 while our public employee counterparts retire in their 50's at the taxpayers expense!

Jeffrey
February 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I disagree with any move to raise the retirement age. There are jobs out there that require actual physical labor which wears the body down - far sooner than age 66. There have also been many people in there late fifties or early sixties that have been laid off in the past few years that cannot find a job in this economy. While most want to work many will have to take the reduced retirement available at 62. The best solution would be to raise the payroll tax on the workers (not employers) enough to cover the entire shortfall, COUPLED with a commensurate reduction in the income tax rate for the income range covered by the SS tax. Income taxes should then be raised on incomes in excess of $1,000,000 to cover the income lost at the lower rates. This would keep the bulk of the cost for SS on those that benefit for it the most while not creating an actual tax increase on those that are struggling the most in this economy.

DOUG
February 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Every dollar collected from the income tax on Social Security
should go to the Social Security and Medicare fund.

george stahl
February 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm

increase the payroll tax rate for both workers and employers from 6.2 percent to 6.6 percent.

mike
February 12, 2014 at 11:35 am

ok,now we get social security out of trouble and the gov. borrows the money again and doesn't pay it back again. so they raise all the taxes again and the age to 70. what guarantee do we have it don't happen all over again.

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