On the eve of the 75th birthday of Social Security, AARP has just released a new survey that counters the conventional thinking that most Americans don't think the retirement system will be there when they need it. According to AARP, 75 percent of adults expect to rely on it and a huge majority, 85 percent, oppose cutting Social Security to pay off the deficit.
What's more, most Americans say that they'd pay higher taxes to keep benefits at today's levels. Here's what AARP just sent us:
AARP SURVEY: AMERICANS OF ALL AGES PLAN TO RELY ON SOCIAL SECURITY
85% oppose cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit as program celebrates 75th anniversary.
WASHINGTON—With the 75th anniversary of Social Security approaching, AARP released a new survey report that shows that three in four (75%) adults age 18+ rely on or plan to rely on Social Security for their retirement income, including a large majority (62%) of younger adults age 18-29. The survey also showed a strong majority of those polled oppose reducing Social Security benefits for deficit reduction (85%), and support the infusion of additional revenues into the system to provide the same level of benefits in the future (57%).
Changes to Program Should Strengthen for Long Term, Not Reduce Deficit
The AARP survey found that regardless of age, 85% of adults oppose cutting Social Security to reduce the federal deficit, with more than seven out of ten (72%) strongly opposing it.
However, many support other changes to keep the program strong for future retirees. Over three-quarters (77%) of non-retired adults are worried that they may not have enough money to live on in retirement. To that end, 50% of non-retired adults are willing to pay more now in payroll taxes to ensure Social Security will be there for them when they retire, a finding that has remained consistent over time. Over half (57%) of adults under age 50 would prefer to pay more into Social Security so they can get the same level of benefits provided today as opposed to keeping payroll tax rates at current levels in exchange for lower benefits.
Eight in ten Americans 18+ (81%) believe the government made a commitment to Americans about Social Security being there for them when they retire, and that the government cannot break its promise. In addition, over eight in ten Americans (83%) agree that regardless of income, everyone who pays into Social Security should receive it, a finding that has not changed over time.
"The message from people of all ages to Washington is clear – don't erode the one bedrock of retirement security that unites all Americans," said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. "Americans see Social Security as a benefit they've earned over a lifetime of hard work, and they oppose it being used to reduce the deficit."
Lack of Confidence Does not Diminish Support, Including Among Younger Adults
Although confidence in the future of Social Security has consistently been low over the last 25 years, Americans of all ages strongly support the program. Consistent with previous surveys, a strong majority (63%) believe Social Security is one of the very most important programs in this country, with nine out of ten (90%) younger adults age 18-29 saying that Social Security is an important government program. Among non-retirees who are not confident about the future of Social Security, 84% agree with the statement that "Maybe I won't need Social Security when I retire, but I definitely want to know it's there just in case I do."
In addition, the public's lower level of confidence in the future of Social Security can be partially explained by the lack of awareness about solvency. Only one in five (21%) Americans knew that if the Social Security trust fund is exhausted in 2037, Social Security could still pay reduced benefits.
"Americans overwhelmingly understand that Social Security has literally been a lifeline to millions of friends, family members and neighbors for 75 years," added LeaMond. "More importantly, they want to make sure it will still be there for future generations. Younger Americans, although worried about whether Social Security will be there for them, value the program with unquestionable support, and want to know that they can rely on the benefits when they retire."