Joyce Bell relies on Social Security for two-thirds of her income. Even with a small pension, money is tight. "If I didn't have my house paid for, I wouldn't be able to live. Period," she said.
Bell, 85, of Bloomington, was one of about 20 people who expressed their anxieties about the future of Medicare and Social Security at an AARP Minnesota community forum called You've Earned a Say.
You've Earned a Say sessions update attendees on the two programs and gather suggestions for safeguarding them.
Nine of 10 Minnesotans 65 and older collect Social Security. Nearly 30 percent of recipients rely almost solely on Social Security for their income; 60 percent say it provides half their income. Nearly 792,000 Minnesotans — 15 percent of the total population — are covered by Medicare.
Programs face challenges
Both programs face long-term financial challenges driven by greater longevity and by the size of the retiring boomer generation.
Social Security can pay full benefits through 2033. After that, about 75 percent of scheduled benefits can be paid unless something is changed. Medicare, affected by rising health care costs, will run short of money to pay hospital costs within 12 years.