With the number of Americans 65 and older expected to increase from almost 42 million today to more than 78 million in 2033, neither program is considered sustainable in its current form.
The AARP sessions, which kicked off March 19 in Miami (in Spanish with English translation), are intended to both provide facts and generate ideas to preserve Social Security and Medicare, said Victoria Funes, associate state director for community outreach.
Information about the current state of both programs and projections for the future will be presented. People will be asked to fill out a questionnaire available at the meetings, online, through the mail or in the AARP Bulletin.
Those attending some of the larger meetings will be given wireless handsets to vote on ideas for the future. Participants will see the results immediately. "That usually sparks an interesting debate,'' Funes said.
Towery said she struggled to find private insurance to cover her for the three years until she qualifies for Medicare and hopes long-term solutions will be found.
"I just want the politicians to address the problem sooner rather than later. I would like for them to take into consideration what people have given to the system and what they expect back, what they were basically promised."
Go to earnedasay.org for more information about the meetings.
Tom Scherberger is a freelance writer in Treasure Island, Fla.
Also of interest: Myths and truths about Social Security.