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Transcript: Chat With AARP President Rob Romasco on Strengthening Social Security

Comment From JB: Will cuts affect 55-year-olds and older?

Rob Romasco: The way it's being discussed today, the answer is yes. Some in Washington see this as a way of addressing the deficit issue. To get these savings would require this change to be instituted almost immediately. This would affect current beneficiaries, people already receiving Social Security checks, as well as future generations.

Comment From Theda: I definitely don't think the government should touch our money that we've paid into the fund to ensure our benefits when we all retire and the same for our children and their benefits they've paid into the account. That should be a "Hands off!" account to be used only by those who've paid into it. Please help to secure our and our children's benefits. Thank you.

Rob Romasco: Thank you, Theda, for your comments. AARP shares your belief that you’ve earned your Social Security benefits through a lifetime of hard work. That’s why we’re fighting to protect Social Security for seniors and why we’re determined to help strengthen the program for your kids and grandkids. Last year, we launched You’ve Earned a Say — a national conversation about the future of Medicare and Social Security — so you can have a voice in the debate. We’ve heard from millions of members like you who are tired of politicians in Washington talking about cutting Social Security benefits as part of a backroom budget deal. It’s time for a separate conversation about how to strengthen Social Security so your kids and grandkids can have a secure retirement.

Comment From MHays: What are some of the ways AARP feels appropriate to compromise? How can you all be part of the solution?

Rob Romasco: AARP is committed to protecting Social Security for seniors and strengthening it for future generations, and whenever Washington is ready to address Social Security as part of a broader discussion on helping people achieve a secure retirement, we’ll engage in that debate. Let's all remember — Social Security was originally part of a three-legged stool. Pensions, savings and Social Security. Two of those legs are virtually nonexistent today. Fewer and fewer people have a defined benefit pension. Two thirds of all Americans over 45 do not have adequate savings for retirement, especially in light of the great recession of the last five years. Social Security will be even more important in the years to come, especially for our children. It's imperative that we protect and strengthen the program. We need a national debate about how to keep Social Security strong for generations to come — not in the context of reducing a federal deficit it did not create, but with the goal of helping people achieve retirement security.

Comment From Steven: I am in my mid-40s and pay the maximum into Social Security each year. Social Security is an integral part of my retirement financial planning. Based on the state of Social Security, can I expect to rely on that income for my retirement? Or should I retool my retirement planning to account for the fact that it may be limited or nonexistent when I retire?

Rob Romasco: Social Security can pay full benefits for approximately 20 years. After that, Social Security will still be able to pay about 75 percent of promised benefits for the next 75 years or more even if no changes are made. That’s why AARP is leading a national conversation about how to put Social Security on stable ground for the long term. For more information about what you can expect from Social Security when you retire, use the AARP Social Security Benefits Calculator.

Comment From Bob: Is it true that veterans will be hardest hit by the proposal around cost of living?

Rob Romasco: Unfortunately, yes. The chained CPI is a significant cut to veterans benefits. The cut would start now and get bigger every year, costing you thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Disabled veterans will see a greater share of these cuts since they rely on these benefits starting at a younger age and for longer periods of time than others. Under chained CPI, a 30-year-old veteran with severe disabilities would see his or her veterans' benefits reduced annually by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at 55, and $3,231 at 65. Older veterans will be hit twice. Since Social Security and veterans benefits will both be cut by the chained CPI, veterans would be hurt twice by the cut. A 65-year-old veteran would see his or her veterans' benefits reduced annually by $1,029 and Social Security benefits by $1,422 at 95, when benefits are needed the most.

AARP: For more information on how the chained CPI relates to you, please check out "5 Reasons Chained CPI Is Bad for Social Security."

Next page: Raising the Social Security salary cap. »

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