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Keep Social Security Strong

Protect retirement security for future generations

Social Security is the guaranteed base of retirement security for most Americans. — Photo by Elena Dorfman /Index Stock Imagery, Inc.

Why Social Security matters

Social Security's guaranteed benefits are a rock-solid commitment to American families. Companies can go out of business. Pension plans can be terminated. The stock market can take a nose dive. But Social Security benefits are there in good times and bad.

Americans earn Social Security's guaranteed retirement benefits by making contributions out of every paycheck throughout their working lives. To demonstrate the significant value of Social Security retirement benefits, consider this: You would need to have saved $386,000 as of January 2012 to buy an annuity (a kind of investment product that guarantees to pay you a steady stream of income) that would pay out an amount equal to the average monthly retirement Social Security check of $1,228.

Social Security benefits are fundamental to the economic security of most older Americans. Today, more than half of all Americans age 65 and over rely on Social Security for more than 50 percent of their family income. Nearly one in four relies on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their family income.

For most retirees, their Social Security benefits and total income are relatively modest. The average annual Social Security retirement benefit is roughly $14,700 a year, and about half of seniors have an income of under $20,000 a year.

But Social Security is much more than a retirement program. Among the nearly 55 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits in 2011 were disabled workers and their families, and the spouses and dependents of deceased workers.

Personal investments, pension and 401(k) accounts, and individual retirement accounts are all important parts of retirement savings, but Social Security is the guaranteed base of retirement security for most Americans. We need to make the modest adjustments necessary to strengthen it for both current and future generations.

To tell Washington how you would strengthen Social Security for today’s seniors and future generations, visit earnedasay.org.

You may also like: Add your photo or video to the Share Your Say Wall.

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AARP is bringing the conversation about Medicare and Social Security out from behind closed doors in Washington. Because you've earned a say. Read

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