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Social Security: Keep It Strong for Future Generations

Social Security has remained strong over its 83-year history largely because of its dedicated financing and the commitment of past congresses and presidents to work together to make the changes needed to secure its financial future.

AARP has been fighting for 60 years — and will continue to lead the charge — to keep Social Security viable for current and future generations. When the president proposed turning Social Security into private accounts in 2005, AARP mobilized the power of millions of its members to defeat that harmful plan. In 2010 and again in 2013, after the president’s deficit commission recommended cutting the cost of living adjustment (COLA), AARP fought and won.

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Challenges Ahead

While the program remains secure today, it needs modest changes to ensure that future generations will get the benefits they’ve earned. Currently, Social Security can pay full benefits for just over 15 years. But if nothing is done to make the program financially sound for the long term, benefits will be cut by about 25 percent in 2034, according to the latest Social Security Board of Trustees report.

In addition, Social Security must be updated to meet changing realities. Life expectancy is increasing, people are having fewer children and there are more women in the workforce than when the program was created. Policymakers also need to be aware that current benefit levels are modest and that people rely heavily on their Social Security benefits. In addition, the retirement landscape has changed, with fewer people guaranteed pensions.  

With modest adjustments, we can better preserve, protect and ensure adequate benefits for both current and future generations.

AARP Guiding Principles

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As you consider a candidate, keep in mind AARP’s guiding principles on the Social Security program:

  • Achieve long-term solvency and adequacy. Social Security should be sufficiently financed to ensure solvency for the long term. Any changes must ensure meaningful benefits for future generations.
  • Reaffirm Social Security’s fundamental character. Social Security should continue to provide a stable foundation for retirement income. It should remain a partnership among individuals, employers and the federal government. It should also maintain its role in providing protection for workers and families affected by death or disability. All covered workers should contribute equitably to the program and receive benefits.
  • Ensure protections for those most in need. Reforms should consider the needs of those most reliant on Social Security and those who have difficulty postponing retirement.
  • Recognize the value of Social Security’s core elements. Social Security should continue to reward work. The key elements of Social Security’s successful structure should be preserved: progressive, defined benefits that cannot be outlived; inflation protection; and benefits based on earnings.
  • Make improvements to reflect today’s workforce. An updated Social Security program must address economic and demographic changes to be able to respond to the needs of future beneficiaries and their families.
  • Ensure fairness. Changes to the program should be implemented gradually and should protect current beneficiaries and near retirees .

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