Seniors Say No to 23% Social Security Benefit Cut In Survey by The Seniors Center

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As Social Security dips into the Trust Fund for the first time since 1982, seniors are overwhelmingly concerned about what the future holds for retirees and their benefits

Our members have told us time and time again they can’t afford for Congress to sweep this problem under the rug until brutal cuts become the only option. Seniors need our lawmakers to act right now.

Results from a recent survey conducted by seniors advocacy nonprofit The Seniors Center illustrate tremendous apprehensions among seniors about the future of Social Security.

Following the Social Security and Medicare Trustees' latest report confirming Social Security costs will exceed payroll tax contributions beginning this year, senior citizens are increasingly concerned what insolvency could mean for their benefits.

In a nationwide survey of American seniors, The Seniors Center asked retirees what their concerns are regarding the financial state of Social Security as well as what they’d like Congress to do to shore up their retirement benefits.

“Over the past several months, we asked thousands of The Seniors Center supporters for their thoughts on potential legislative options and how they feel current projections for Social Security would affect them,” said The Seniors Center President Dan Perrin.

Participants responded overwhelmingly they are most concerned the current state of Social Security financing will lead to severe cuts--cuts the vast majority say they can’t possibly afford.

Ninety-six percent of respondents said they couldn’t afford a 23% decrease in their monthly benefits.

For several years, financial experts and the Social Security Trustees have speculated that with no legislative intervention, Social Security will face insolvency as soon as 2034. At that time, a combination of benefit cuts and payroll tax increases will be necessary to continue to pay scheduled benefits to retirees.

It is estimated that with no changes made to increase Social Security funding, beneficiaries would face between a 21% and 23% cut in their payments in order to meet statutory requirements

Respondents also expressed serious concern the impact such cuts might have on their peers. Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed believe further cuts to Social Security benefits will push many seniors into poverty.

Similar insecurities surfaced in responses related to Congressional intervention. Ninety-six percent of respondents say they want the payment of their full scheduled benefits to be legally guaranteed, and 98% say they would like to see the government begin to repay borrowed Social Security funds and rebuild the Trust Fund with real cash assets.

These responses seem to indicate a lack of confidence--or at least uncertainty. Warnings about the Trust Fund’s upcoming financial troubles are nothing new--and neither is the government’s continued silence and avoidance of the issue.

American seniors’ anxieties about future benefit cuts coupled with their strong desire for a cash-backed Social Security and legal benefit guarantee would suggest they only expect the inaction to continue.

“These results come as no surprise,” said Perrin. “Our members have told us time and time again they can’t afford for Congress to sweep this problem under the rug until brutal cuts become the only option. Seniors need our lawmakers to act right now.”

Congress has the next 16 years to combine a number of strategies to extend Social Security’s solvency. In taking prompt action, Congress has several options and the longest possible window to phase in what might be very large changes to the Social Security system and payroll taxes.

But as time passes with no serious discussion, these options become fewer and the transitions become harsher for Americans at every stage of their working lives.

For more information about The Seniors Center and Social Security policy, visit The Seniors Center website.

The Seniors Center is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization with over 450,000 supporters working together to preserve and protect the Social Security Trust Fund and on other issues effecting senior citizens.

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