Celebrating 75 years of Social Security

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, August 17, 2010

For 75 years Social Security has provided Americans with an earned, inflation-protected retirement benefit that will last a lifetime and has dramatically improved the economic status of older adults.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on Aug. 14, 1935, and since then working Americans have paid into the system with a guarantee that their earned benefit will be there when they need it.

Today, one in six Ohioans receives Social Security, which pumps more than $2.21 billion dollars each month into Ohio’s economy.

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Ohio’s 2,074, 384 Social Security recipients collect an average monthly benefit of $1,067.86. Social Security is a safety net for the middle class, but a lifeline for the 22 percent of Ohioans for whom it makes up 90 percent of the family’s income.

With today’s focus on deficit reduction at the federal level, some leaders in Washington are talking about cutting Social Security benefits as a means of reducing the deficit despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one dime to our nation’s debt.

Even in the economic crisis, the Social Security Trust fund continues to grow. The Social Security Trustees report that Social Security will be able to pay benefits — on time and in full – until 2037, and will be able to pay three-quarters of benefits thereafter.

The current $2.5 trillion Social Security Trust Fund is expected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2023.

The way we see it, Americans have put their hard-earned dollars into Social Security and deserve to receive their promised benefits when they retire.

AARP will fight any attempt made to unfairly balance the nation’s budget by reducing promised Social Security benefits.

Companies can go out of business, pensions can be terminated, the stock market can take a nose dive, but Social Security benefits have been there in good times and bad, and Americans want it to stay that way.

A new AARP survey found that regardless of age, 85 percent of adults oppose cutting Social Security to reduce the federal deficit, with more than seven out of 10 (72 percent) strongly opposing it.

AARP believes that any changes to Social Security should be made gradually and should ensure that:

If you pay into Social Security, you will receive the benefits you’ve earned.

Your Social Security benefit will keep up with inflation for as long as you live.

If you become disabled and can no longer work, you will receive a benefit. And, if you die, it could help to protect your family.

You continue to have access to a decent early retirement benefit if you need it.

Finally, any changes to Social Security should be part of a broader conversation about how to help Americans prepare for a secure retirement as other sources of retirement income — such as pensions, savings, and home equity — have been crumbling over the past decade.

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Social Security, AARP will remain vigilant and monitor the activities of the federal Deficit Reduction Committee.

AARP volunteers are meeting with members of Congress during the August recess to encourage them to prevent cuts in benefits to reduce the national deficit and to take action to keep Social Security strong for today’s seniors and future generations.

JoAnne Limbach is State President of AARP Ohio, located at 17 S. High St., Suite 800, Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached at (866) 389-5653.