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Social Security Must Be Protected — and Kept Strong

AARP will defend your indispensable benefit

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GREGORY REID

A big takeaway from this year’s State of the Union speech is the rare display of bipartisan support for Social Security.

spinner image AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkins, illustration
Illustration by Michael Hoeweler

In the days after the Feb. 7 address, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) joined President Joe Biden in making it clear that cuts to Social Security are off the table in the debt ceiling debate.

That’s good news for the 66 million Americans who depend on this vital program each month. An overwhelming majority of Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents alike — agree Social Security should never be used as a budget bargaining chip. It is an earned benefit and sacred promise that must be kept.

Although the program has been a great success, steps must be taken to ensure its solvency for the long term.

This is a complex issue that cannot be resolved by simply raising the retirement age or reducing benefits, as some have suggested. Strengthening Social Security requires an unprecedented degree of collaboration between our elected officials and the American people. There is an old saying: “Nothing about us without us.” After working their whole lives and paying into the program with each paycheck to earn their benefits, older Americans and their families deserve a say in any changes to Social Security. AARP is in the thick of this fight, and we have made our position clear.

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It is hard to overstate the importance and impact of Social Security. For most people over retirement age, Social Security is their largest source of income; for 14 percent of those people, it is nearly their entire income. The average retired worker benefit is $1,779 a month, reflecting the 8.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment that took effect in January. As the nation remains mired in a period of high inflation, the need for Social Security is growing. Prices for basic necessities continue to rise. Many Americans have little or no savings. People are living longer, and employer-paid pensions are increasingly scarce. In addition, more seniors are single and lack family support.

Given these realities, we must keep Social Security strong. Americans should be able to trust that our leaders will safeguard the hard-earned Social Security benefits they have paid into and earned throughout their lives. Young people should have the confidence that they will receive the benefits they’re earning now through their hard work, just as their parents and grandparents have done.

Social Security has never missed a payment, and AARP will never stop fighting to protect and strengthen this indispensable earned benefit, so you, your family and future generations of Americans can continue to count on it as millions of Americans have for the past 88 years.

Securing Social Security: AARP stands by these four principles

  • Any process looking at Social Security options should be transparent and provide substantial opportunities for input from the public and outside organizations.
  • Any proposals must reflect today’s changing workforce and the dynamic economic and demographic shifts that make it harder for workers to save enough for retirement.
  • All legislation to adjust Social Security should go through the regular order of congressional business and be done outside the context of debt reduction.
  • We oppose any attempt by Congress to “sunset” Social Security so it has to be reenacted every few years. That would gravely threaten the benefits earned over a lifetime.

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