Among other findings of the poll, which has a potential margin of error of 2.8 percentage points:
- 43 percent of respondents said they would not be able to afford the basics of life without Social Security, while another 25 percent said they would have to make "significant sacrifices."
- 54 percent think the average Social Security check, at $1,168 per month, is too low.
- 87 percent say Social Security will be very or somewhat important to their retirement.
Benefits for millionaires?
The survey also found little support for the notion of curbing benefits for "millionaires and other wealthy seniors" — a solution proposed by some as a way to cut the fiscal deficit.
Instead, 76 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that "Social Security is not a welfare program" and that people who pay into the system deserve to get their money back when they retire.
"Social Security is not like an insurance policy or something that you pay into in the hopes you never have to use it," Beth Hinderaker, 47, of Long Beach, Calif., told a survey-related focus group meeting there this week. "We put money in every month. You should at least get back exactly what you put in."
Hinderaker says her family has faced some rough economic times in the past two years. She is skeptical that Social Security will have survived as a benefit when she retires.
"I sure don't see it as a sure thing, though I'd love to be proven wrong," said Hinderaker, a stay-at-home mom who designs jewelry and fashion accessories. "When I do think about it, I see Social Security as a supplement, and I hope it will still be there for me."
Michael Zielenziger writes about the economy.