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2012 Staying Sharp Programs Will Include 'You’ve Earned a Say' Discussion

Brain fitness and avoiding financial fraud are the top concerns of Utahns 50+ according to our 2011 “Voices of Utah 50+: Dreams and Challenges” survey, and we want to respond according. Three Staying Sharp/Fraud Forums are scheduled this year, including Moab on May 19, followed by Cedar City on June 16 and Layton on August 18. But in addition to hearing from the University of Utah’s Brain Center and the Utah Securities Division, AARP Utah will hold a listening session as part of AARP’s national initiative, “You’ve Earned a Say,” which will focus on discussion of solvency options for Social Security and Medicare.

According to AARP CEO Barry Rand, “We have heard from our members and people 50-plus urging us not to let negotiators in Congress touch Social Security and Medicare benefits. They recognize that these programs need to be strengthened, but they are tired of politicians in Washington trading away the benefits they have earned and paid for throughout their working lives. They want a voice in that discussion, and they feel like they've earned it. It's time to bring this debate out from behind the closed doors of congressional caucuses and a super committee and give the people who pay into Medicare and Social Security a voice.

“Together, we need to start a national discussion on strengthening health and retirement security for hard-working Americans. Let's start by recognizing the role of Social Security.

“Social Security is the corner retirement security for the vast majority of Americans. Without any changes, it can pay all promised benefits until 2036 and roughly 75 percent of benefits after that. Social Security is not in crisis, but as you have told us, we need to do something — the sooner the better — to extend its life for generations to come. Social Security does not need a radical overhaul. And we can restore it to long-term solvency without making damaging benefit cuts, especially for current recipients.

“A national conversation on Social Security should be guided by some basic principles. For starters, any changes to Social Security should be considered as part of a broader challenge of helping Americans prepare for a secure retirement, especially as other sources of retirement income — such as pensions, savings, and home equity — crumble. If you pay into Social Security, you should receive the 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.”

“You’ve Earned a Say” listening sessions will be scheduled around the state, but if you want to, you can submit suggestions online. You can also e-mail us at

Below is a survey we’ve sent out to members asking them what they think of Social Security and Medicare, and how concerned they are about the future of these programs. The discussions we’ll hold around the state will also pose possible solvency solutions to participants to gather feedback.

You’ve Earned a Say Questionnaire

Which of these statements do you think best describes Social Security?

  • Social Security is okay as it is.
  • It needs minor changes.
  • It needs major changes.
  • It is in a state of crisis.

Which of these statements do you think best describes Medicare?

  • Medicare is okay as it is.
  • It needs minor changes.
  • It needs major changes.
  • It is in a state of crisis.

Do you expect to get more back from Medicare and Social Security than you have contributed, less, or about the same?

  • More
  • Less
  • Same

When it comes to securing the future of Medicare and Social Security, which of the following do you expect:

  • More funding will be needed to maintain the same benefits.
  • Benefits will be reduced.
  • Either.
  • Neither.

When it comes to changes being made to Social Security and Medicare in Washington:

  • I want to make my voice heard.
  • I want to make my voice heard, but I don’t think it will make any difference.
  • I am not interested in being involved.

Open Ended Question: Do you believe that it is important to strengthen Medicare and Social Security? Why or why not?

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