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Helping Voters Make Election Choices

Guide outlines candidates' views on Social Security, Medicare

Oscar Luna, is distributing voters’ guides to help educate voters on where candidates stand on the future of Social Security and Medicare.

Todd Spoth

AARP volunteer Oscar Luna, 62, of Houston, is distributing voters’ guides to help educate voters.

Oscar Luna says it's important that Texans are aware of where their congressional candidates stand on the financial future of Social Security and Medicare.

"It's all going to affect our children and future generations," said Luna, 62, of Houston, a retiree from the Social Security Administration who works as a substitute teacher.

He worries about the increasing cost of health care and wants to elect leaders who will do something about it.

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"Things are getting really tough."

Luna said he's doing his part by distributing voters' guides at the AARP Texas You've Earned a Say sessions that explore the financial security and future of Social Security and Medicare.

Sessions throughout October are in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, the border region of southwest Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.

Also available in Spanish

In areas with large populations of Spanish speakers, materials printed in Spanish and bilingual volunteers such as Luna will be available at the You've Earned a Say sessions.

The voters' guide to Texas' 36 U.S. House races and one U.S. Senate contest is also available online.

It includes statements culled from the candidates' websites, news releases and public remarks that address how they would:

"It gives you a real clear overview about what the candidates have actually said about issues," said Bob Jackson, AARP Texas state director.

"Our goal is to make sure there are informed voters who know about the very important issues that affect them," he said.

Next: Options on the table for changes to the Medicare and Social Security programs. »

Luna said he hopes people will "get up from that recliner and say, 'You know what? I need to get more involved.' We can make a difference."

The voters' guide also includes these AARP principles:

  • Social Security should continue to guarantee that Americans receive benefits based on what they earn and contribute.
  • Social Security benefits should keep up with inflation.
  • Medicare should be strengthened and improved and should ensure high-quality heath care.

Attendees at the You've Earned a Say sessions also will get information on how to use voting machines on Election Day, Nov. 6, and the latest legal rulings on Texas' voter identification law.

Options on the table
Social Security trustees project that without changes the program can pay 100 percent of expected benefits only through 2033. After that, the payout would drop to about 75 percent.

Medicare trustees predict the fund that helps pay for hospital costs will be exhausted in 2024.

After the election, federal officials are expected to address proposals for changes to the programs.

These include increasing the amount of income subject to the payroll tax that finances most of Social Security and some of Medicare, reducing benefits, increasing the eligibility age for both programs, reducing the cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries and raising the Medicare premium for higher-income beneficiaries.

Pros and cons of major options for changing the programs will be presented at the You've Earned a Say sessions. AARP commissioned experts whose views typically represent different sides of the issues to analyze a dozen or more options.

To see the voters' guide, enter your ZIP code at the You've Earned a Say web page. Dates and times of the You've Earned a Say sessions are at the AARP Texas website.

Kelley Shannon is a writer living in Austin, Texas.

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