Published in the January 2012 issue of The Fifty Plus Advocate.
“I remember the pride I felt when I received my Social Security card at the age of 14,” said Sarah, an AARP member from Natick. “I have been happy over the years to pay into this program which supported my grandparents and parents, but is now threatened by those who do not understand that we are all in this together. What happened to our country that we no longer care about each other?”
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Over the last several months, we have heard from thousands of AARP members from across the commonwealth – and throughout the country – who have expressed their frustration, anger and even fear over the prospect of Congress cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits in order to reduce the nation’s debt. More than 6.5 million signed petitions urging members of Congress not to make these cuts.
Yes, we sent a strong message to the congressional Super Committee that was working to solve the federal budget deficit. And, while they failed to act, this will not be the end of the debate.
Medicare and Social Security are Lifelines
Today, more than one million Massachusetts residents count on these lifeline programs.
In the Bay State alone, middle- and lower-income seniors rely on Social Security for 74.2 percent of their individual income. Without these Social Security benefits, nearly 300,000 of the commonwealth’s older residents would face poverty. Remember, the average annual Social Security benefit is only $13,900 – while the typical Massachusetts senior on Medicare pays $6,800 a year on their out-of-pocket health care costs. And, nearly 100 percent of our older residents are enrolled in Medicare.
“Medicare is very important to my husband and me,” explained Joan from Yarmouthport. “It is something we worked very hard for, for many years, and now we depend on it for our health care coverage.”
We have heard from our members, and Americans 50-plus, that we as a nation need to strengthen and improve Social Security and Medicare – as opposed to treating them as a piggy bank to pay the nation’s bills. Our members are extremely frustrated with the inability of Congress to address these concerns.
John of Billerica sums up this sentiment, “As young adults, we worked our entire young lives trying to keep on top of things and pay our taxes, so as we reach retirement age, we will have the help we need not to have to depend on our children. Let us not show them that there is no hope for the future."