by Iris Rivera-Acosta
One would hardly know from most of the news coverage around the elections, but voters really do want our political leaders to lay out their plans to keep Social Security financially sound for future generations. There is a pressing need for our presidential and congressional candidates to declare a commitment toward updating a Social Security program that was created more than 80 years ago.
The ripple effect from our nation’s leaders failing to take action to keep Social Security strong and solvent will not only be felt by our current citizens paying into the program, but our kids and grandkids as well.
Social Security does more than provide crucial income for millions of Americans who receive benefits – it boosts the entire economy. Without action, Social Security benefits could be cut by nearly 25 percent beginning in 2034. If a dollar of Social Security benefits is reduced 25 percent that leaves just 75 cents to be pumped into the economy.
An analysis by AARP makes clear just how damaging the cuts would be for residents of Connecticut and all future retirees. Here is a glimpse of what a 25 percent cutback would mean to future retirees in our state:
- The average annual family income of Connecticut retirees would plunge by $4,600. For many state residents, losses would be much higher.
- The poverty rate of older Connecticut residents would skyrocket 66 percent.
To put a cutback of that size in perspective, consider that older Connecticut residents typically spend $7,700 a year on groceries, $5,200 a year on utilities, and $8,200 on health care. A Social Security cut of nearly 25 percent would force households to make painful choices about what to buy and what to do without – at a time when the cost of necessities like food and prescription drugs continues to rise.
I realize that 2034 may seem far-off to some people, but kicking the can down the road — as Washington is famous for — is not an option.
That is why AARP launched Take A Stand – a national campaign to urge the political candidates to show leadership on Social Security. Thousands of Take A Stand volunteers like myself have shown up at events around the country to tell the candidates soundbites aren’t good enough.
We believe it is time to have a Social Security debate that can help our country move forward. Proposals that candidates offer for Social Security should be fully debated with careful consideration, and people should understand how these ideas could affect them and their families.
This is an issue that affects hundreds of millions of US citizens today, but it will greatly impact our kids and grandkids. Do we want to be the generation that left the country in worse shape than it was handed to us?
AARP Connecticut volunteer Iris Rivera-Acosta is a Hartford resident