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

Comment From Julie: What is a safe and reliable website to learn the proposals for changes to Social Security for those already receiving it? Thanks.

Rob Romasco: A good place to go is our You've Earned a Say website. Not only will you get good information, but also you'll see a number of proposals that have been discussed about how to address the challenges of Social Security. Along with these proposals are the pros and cons, so you can make up your own mind on what makes sense to you. We hope you join the more than 3 million of our members who have gone to this website, weighed in, and let their voices be heard.

AARP: See "The Future of Social Security: 12 Proposals You Should Know About."

Comment From Louise: I'll be 62 years old this year and was thinking about claiming my Social Security early in case it's cut by the time I'm 66. Do you think that is a good idea?

Rob Romasco: As you know, you're eligible to file for Social Security benefits at 62. The longer you postpone, the higher your benefit. If you file when you're 62, the benefit would be 25 percent lower than if you waited until you were 66. Each person's situation is different. The best way to figure this out is to go to our retirement benefits calculator.

AARP: Follow this link to our Social Security Benefits Calculator

Comment From Kathleen: This money is earned by us and we deserve to get it. There has to be another solution and the Congress has no right to cut our benefits. Make a loud noise in Washington.

Rob Romasco: We agree that this money has been earned by each of us. That's why we're asking you to urge Congress not to cut our benefits to reduce the deficit. However, we believe Washington does need to address our budget challenges. AARP members and beyond recognize that Social Security did not cause our federal deficits and, therefore, the much-needed benefits of real, hardworking people should not be cut in order to remedy the deficit. With fewer and fewer jobs offering pensions, and with health costs rising, Social Security deserves its own national conversation that focuses on preserving and strengthening the retirement security of Americans and their families for generations to come.

Comment From Pat: How can they mess with our money that we contributed ourselves for so long? Will this have an effect on disability checks also?

Rob Romasco: Yes, it will affect all Social Security benefits, including disability benefits. And as we noted before, it will affect other benefits as well, such as veterans benefits.

Comment From Edward: We can remove the cap on Social Security earnings and have that amount added to the program with ease. Why is this not considered a no-brainer? When this program began they would have no idea that in this day and age the amounts of money people could amass. If we aren't going to close these loopholes in taxes, the least we can do immediately is take the cap off earnings to pay into a program to make it stable.

Rob Romasco: Removing the cap on earnings is one of several ideas that are being discussed. In fact, as part of our You've Earned a Say effort, you can look at this and other suggestions, both the pros and cons, written by independent experts, and you can decide which of these ideas makes the most sense.

AARP: Please check out www.earnedasay.org

Rob Romasco: These have been great questions. AARP is committed to preserving and strengthening Social Security both for current beneficiaries, and most importantly for future generations. We recognize the nation's challenge around the deficit as well as some of the challenges that Social Security faces. We believe that Social Security deserves a separate national conversation about how to find responsible solutions for the long-term challenges it faces. We believe it should not be used to balance the budget in the short term. This national conversation about Social Security should focus on responsible solutions for ensuring that Social Security is there for the long term, especially for our children. The current idea about chained CPI is not, we believe, a responsible solution. Reducing benefits for current recipients, with the impact increasing as we grow older, does not make sense. The largest benefit cuts will occur during the time when beneficiaries need more resources to pay for increasing out-of-pocket health care costs and are at the greatest risk of poverty. See how those losses add up where you live. That's why today we urge Congress not to adopt chained CPI but to engage in a broad conversation about financial security and the vital role that Social Security plays in that.

Rob Romasco: If you would like to make your voice heard with Congress, you can send a letter to your members of Congress today. Thank you everybody!

AARP: We thank everyone for joining today's chat. There were some great questions.

Robert Romasco is the president of AARP.

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