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Virginians Say Programs Need Change — But When?

Strong support for strengthening Social Security, Medicare

Betty Bowden in her home in Jupiter Florida, You've Earned a Say

Betty Bowden, of Virginia Beach, was one of 21,000 state residents who responded to a You’ve Earned a Say questionnaire. Nearly half said major changes to Social Security should wait. — Maggie Steber

A majority of Virginians who expressed their views on the future of Social Security and Medicare said changes are necessary to stabilize the programs, but they're split about what to do and how soon to do it.

See also: You've Earned a Say reports delivered to Congress and candidates

"The share of the budget going to entitlements has to slow down. Everybody has to give a little bit, the sooner the better, to go after the problem," said retired foreign service officer Stephen Brundage, 61, of Arlington, expressing a view shared by many Virginians.

Adjusting Social Security

Seventy-one percent of the roughly 17,000 Virginia residents responding to AARP-sponsored You've Earned a Say questionnaires said the Social Security system needs adjustments, while 74 percent said the same for Medicare.

As for the timing, 27 percent of the 29,000 residents responding to an in-depth survey about Social Security said changes should be made right away, while 63 percent said changes could wait, and about 10 percent said that no changes should be made.

Asked what was Social Security's greatest financial challenge, 29 percent said higher-paid workers were not contributing enough.

More than 62,000 Virginians responded to an in-depth Medicare questionnaire: 22 percent said major changes to the health insurance system should be made now; 62 percent said lawmakers should wait a few years; and 16 percent said no changes should be made.

Next page: Timetable and biggest challenges for Medicare reform. »

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