In August, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Social Security. Ever since Ida Mae Fuller received the first Social Security check in January 1940, Social Security has provided the foundation of retirement security and helped people to live their lives with independence and dignity.
At AARP, we are committed to protecting and fighting for Social Security so that people 75 years from now will still enjoy the peace of mind it provides today. We also know that Social Security needs to be strengthened for future generations, and we will work diligently toward that goal.
We understand that Social Security is much more than just a public policy. It is a guaranteed pension that, on average, replaces 40 percent of a retiree’s wages. And because it is risk-free—the only part of the retirement system that is—it is the lifeline that many older Americans, their families, people with disabilities, widows and other survivors count on for their day-to-day lives.
Fighting for, protecting and strengthening Social Security won’t be easy. The president’s bipartisan fiscal commission—co-chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles—and others in Washington are targeting Social Security to help close the growing federal budget deficit. More than most, we understand the importance of balanced budgets, but it’s essential that the deficit not be closed by cutting benefits that today’s seniors and future generations have earned over a lifetime of hard work.
If Washington wants to restore confidence in our nation’s budget, lawmakers should deal with what’s really caused our federal deficit. The fact is, Americans pay for Social Security, and it hasn’t added one dime to the deficit. It’s a sacred promise we make to seniors, our children and our grandchildren—one that must not be broken. We believe that.
As we look ahead, we are guided by some basic principles:
- Any changes to Social Security should be discussed as part of a broader conversation about how to help Americans prepare for a secure retirement, especially as other sources of retirement income—such as pensions, savings and home equity—have been crumbling over the past decade.
- If you pay into Social Security, you should receive the full benefits you’ve earned over a lifetime of hard work.
- Your Social Security benefits should keep up with inflation for as long as you live.
- You should continue to be covered in case you become disabled and can no longer work, and your family should continue to be protected if you die.
- We will provide educational support and advocate policies to help people save. And we will encourage better pensions and more private savings in addition to—not at the expense of—Social Security.
So as we celebrate Social Security’s 75th anniversary in August, we need to protect and strengthen Social Security so future generations will continue to have a strong foundation of income they can count on in retirement for the next 75 years. You can count on AARP to lead this fight.