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Members Speak Out on Social Security and Medicare

Ideas flow at You've Earned a Say sessions

People around the country are making their voices heard on Social Security and Medicare — and they have a lot to say.

AARP is taking the debate about Medicare and Social Security out from behind closed doors in Washington and making sure that all Americans have a voice in the discussion about their future.

Hundreds of thousands of AARP members have already participated in You’ve Earned a Say. This national conversation focuses on strengthening health and retirement security. AARP is listening to what people say through questionnaires, national town halls, local meetings and Web chats.

“Instead of talking about Medicare and Social Security as line items in the federal budget, Washington should be talking about how to strengthen health and retirement security and ensuring Americans have a voice in the debate,” said AARP CEO A. Barry Rand. “Our members and older Americans have paid into Medicare and Social Security throughout their working lives, and they have earned a say in the future of these programs.”

Summaries of the responses will be featured in AARP publications and shared with Congress. Videotaped interviews with individuals will be showcased at These and other efforts help you hear what other Americans are saying about their earned benefits.

Speaking out, but anxious

Hundreds of thousands of people have already made their voices heard by sending in the questionnaire from the March AARP Bulletin. Here’s what they said:

  • 46 percent said they wanted to make their voices heard in the debate about the future of Medicare and Social Security.
  • 47 percent wanted a voice in the debate, but are afraid it won’t make any difference.
  • The remaining 7 percent said they were not interested in being involved.

In addition, AARP is holding community conversations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Participants are sharing ideas for how to strengthen the nation’s health and Social Security systems.

In Washington state, “Organizers barely had time to switch the microphones on before a packed room of local seniors lined up to voice their opinions in the debate over Social Security and Medicare,” according to a May 14 item in the Mercer Island Reporter.

Expressing their views

After working hard for decades, paying taxes and contributing to the Social Security system, many people 50-plus are anxious about their benefits.

Medicare's hospital trust fund is expected to be exhausted in 2024.

Social Security can pay promised benefits through 2033 with no changes to the system. After that, 75 percent of benefits can be paid.

Research released by AARP in March showed that 95 percent of Americans think Washington should spend more time listening to ordinary citizens like them when it comes to decisions about Social Security and Medicare. That’s why AARP is providing so many ways for Americans to speak out and be heard. Active listening and inclusive conversations are hallmarks of You’ve Earned a Say.

Exploring the options

You’ve Earned a Say is also about making sure that all Americans receive clear and balanced information about the programs and the proposals being debated in Washington.

Presidential and congressional candidates have suggested a variety of options, including increasing the amount of income that's subject to payroll taxes; enrolling new state and local government employees in the Social Security system; changing the cost-of-living adjustment; reducing benefits for wealthy people; and raising the full-benefit retirement age.

AARP wants to hear your ideas. To join the conversation and get balanced information and analysis about options affecting Social Security and Medicare, go to Join the conversation and have your say!

What do you think of this article and the work AARP has accomplished in 2012? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts.

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