En Español| Since we launched You've Earned a Say, we've heard from hundreds of thousands of people who have told us how important Social Security and Medicare are and will continue to be to their health and financial security.
The vast majority also say that the programs need adjustments in order to be put on stable ground. In fact, only 12 percent of respondents say the future of Medicare and Social Security can be secured without changes.
But people also tell us something else. They tell us that any changes made to Social Security and Medicare should add value to the programs and keep them secure and affordable now and for future generations.
With regard to Medicare, people tell us that their biggest concern is that it will disappear or become unaffordable. They believe it should be strengthened and improved so that both current and future generations can count on having access to high-quality, affordable coverage. That means it should continue to guarantee affordable care and a specific set of benefits to meet health care needs. Likewise, it should ensure access to high-quality health care. And most people are convinced that Medicare can do more to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care by emphasizing value and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse.
Most of the people we hear from view Social Security, like Medicare, as a benefit they have earned and expect to receive. As such, they believe that Social Security should continue to guarantee that Americans who work and pay into the system receive benefits based on what they earn and contribute, and that those benefits should keep up with inflation as long as one lives.
They also recognize that there is no Social Security crisis, but that the program must be put on stable financial ground. It is crucial that any changes be made with regard for what they would mean for real people, not just the balance sheet. For example, they believe that any adjustments should be made gradually so people can plan for their futures. And they should not affect those currently in or near retirement. They also believe it is important to protect the benefits of those who count on them the most, including spouses and families and people who have disabilities and cannot work. Finally, they believe that if Social Security is going be strong in the future, the money they pay into Social Security should not be used to run the rest of government. Social Security should be kept separate from the rest of the federal budget.
What we're hearing is a clear reflection of what people value most about Social Security and Medicare. What's not so clear to our members, people 50-plus and their families is how the changes politicians are proposing stack up against what they value. We at AARP are bridging that gap. I urge you to go to earnedasay.org. We're presenting a balanced view of how proposed changes would affect real people. Give us your thoughts. Tell us what makes sense.
You've Earned a Say! AARP wants to hear your ideas. To join the conversation and to get balanced information and analysis about Social Security and Medicare proposals being discussed in Washington, go to earnedasay.org.
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Professor Edward Berkowitz details the history of the Social Security program beginning with the signing of the Social Security Act by FDR.