Latinos age 65 and older have higher poverty rates than non-Hispanic whites, both including and excluding Social Security income, so when the co-chairs of the President’s deficit commission released their controversial proposals to tap into Social Security to reduce the deficit, AARP Colorado's Multicultural Outreach division was very concerned, to put it lightly.
Without Social Security, 49 percent of older Hispanics, nationwide, would be living in poverty. Even after accounting for Social Security, about 20 percent of Hispanics — more than double the rate for whites 8 percent — live in poverty.
The recommendations, released in November, include extreme changes to Social Security that would hit middle and low-income Hispanic seniors, the hardest.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recommends increasing the age of retirement to 69 by 2075 and would make deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare. In fact, middle earners could see a 30 percent reduction in benefits.
“For older people of color, the proposed changes could be devastating because Social Security is the primary source of retirement income for this growing segment of the population,” said Roberto Rey, AARP Colorado associate state director – multicultural. “More than a quarter of older African Americans and Hispanics depend on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their family income, and foreign-born residents tend to receive less Social Security income than native-born citizens.”
Social Security keeps about 30 percent of older Latinos out of poverty, nationally.
In Colorado, 27.7 percent are kept out of poverty because of Social Security. More than 665,000 people, of all races and ethnicities in Colorado, receive Social Security. Nearly 500,000 of them are retirees, and Social Security pumps more than $709,000 into Colorado’s economy each month.
During these tough economic times, the last thing we should be considering is targeting the guaranteed, inflation-protected Social Security benefits that millions of Americans count on every day.
Americans are already facing declining pensions, lack of savings and rising health care costs. These proposals are taking the country in the wrong direction, Rey said.
The President’s fiscal commission must refocus on the impact of cuts on real people when proposing any changes to Social Security.
Social Security is there in good times and bad. Given the decline in pensions, lack of access to workplace retirement accounts, and low savings rates, Social Security will continue to be the mainstay of retirement security for future generations.
The federal government should deal with what really caused the deficit. Social Security didn’t cause this deficit and it shouldn’t be used as government’s piggy bank. Many older Latinos in Colorado live on Social Security. They worked hard over a lifetime and contributed to this fund. It’s money that should be there for them when they retire, and we shouldn’t let the federal government dip into to it at will, Rey said.