En español | “My mother passed away last year and she worked all of her life but she didn’t have a job where she could retire with a pension. Therefore, her sole income [in retirement] was from Social Security,” Vernon Wildy told hundreds of AARP members and community activists and leaders in Richmond, Va., on March 19. “There are many other seniors out there today who are depending on that source of income just like she did.”
Learn more about You've Earned a Say.
Not everyone gathered there might agree 100 percent with Wildy’s perspective on Social Security. But the audience cheered him for voicing it. After all, that’s why they had come together: to kick off You've Earned a Say, a national conversation about how to ensure that Medicare and Social Security will continue to provide the health and economic security that older Americans count on.
In Richmond and at simultaneous events in Miami, Denver and Columbus, Ohio, participants stood up to speak, recorded their opinions in video booths, completed questionnaires and encouraged others to raise their voices through social media (hashtag #earnedasay). They also heard AARP CEO Barry Rand voice his concern that over the past year “politicians have been meeting behind closed doors” to discuss cuts in these programs as part of deals to reduce the federal deficit.
“Throughout the debate we heard from millions of our members who said they’re tired of politicians trading away the benefits they’ve earned,” Rand told the audience, in person in Richmond and via satellite to the other sites. “They told us they want a voice in any discussion about the future of Medicare and Social Security.”
That sentiment came through in survey results released by AARP: While Medicare and Social Security are seen as important to people’s health and financial security in retirement, confidence that the programs will be there throughout retirement is not very strong.
Through You've Earned a Say, AARP will be listening at community events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and by collecting responses to an online questionnaire. People can also share their ideas directly with members of Congress and presidential candidates through the You've Earned a Say page on the AARP website.
“It’s very important that we protect Medicare and Social Security,” said Altamese Johnson when asked about what brought her to the meeting in Richmond. “We need to make our voices heard all the way to Washington, D.C.”