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Eye on the Issue: Social Security

For 75 years, Americans have been paying into Social Security with the guarantee that in return for their hard-earned dollars, they will receive a benefit when they retire. Social Security’s guaranteed benefits are a rock-solid commitment to American families. Companies can go out of business; pensions can be terminated; the stock market can take a nose dive; but Social Security benefits are there in good times and bad — and we must make sure it stays that way.

Currently, Social Security can pay out full benefits until 2037 and nearly three-quarters of promised benefits after that with no changes to the system. According to a recent report by the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, modest changes made now can strengthen Social Security’s financing for the long term and ensure that future generations receive an adequate benefit.

Still, some people in Washington say Social Security is “going broke” and needs a major overhaul. They have been saying that for years and years, often as a pretext for proposing radical changes such as private accounts funded with Social Security dollars that would cost trillions of dollars and weaken retirement security for hard-working American families. Many moderate changes have been made to Social Security over the past 75 years to keep the program strong and preserve the guaranteed benefit Social Security provides. With modest adjustments to Social Security we can continue to ensure Social Security remains strong for our children and grandchildren.

As our nation’s leaders consider how to strengthen Social Security, AARP is guided by basic principles:

  • If you pay into Social Security, you should receive the full 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.
  • We provide educational support and advocate policies to help people save money.
  • We encourage better pensions and more private savings in addition to — not at the expense of — Social Security.


AARP urges the president and Congress to consider any changes to Social Security as part of a broader conversation about how to help ensure Americans achieve a secure retirement, especially as other sources of retirement income — such as pensions, savings and home equity — have been crumbling over the past decade.

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