— by Janice Ayres
I was invited to an AARP meeting recently to give my opinion on 12 proposals on the congressional table for the future of Social Security. There were about a dozen of us in attendance who have been heavily involved in senior issues for many years and thus asked to give our opinions on these proposals.
All 12 issues were important ones. However, I was especially interested in the one about raising the full retirement age. The pro opinion wanted to raise the age significantly because people are living longer, and it costs too much money to pay out at an earlier age. The con opinion said it should not be longer and we should not be penalized by a stealth benefit cut that is unnecessary and unjust.
Other issues were: longevity indexing, recalculate the COLA, increase the payroll tax cap, eliminate the payroll tax cap, reduce benefits for higher earners, benefit improvements, increase the payroll tax rate, tax all salary reduction plans, cover all newly hired state and local government workers, increase number of years used to calculate initial benefits and begin means testing Social Security benefits.
AARP is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to senior issues. I encourage you to go online at earnedasay.org and register your 2 cents’ worth on each of these issues. Remember seniors, this presidential election could be the most important one of your life.
For more than a year, Washington Republicans have been dismantling your Social Security behind closed doors as part of a budget deal with very little discussion about how their changes will affect you and your family. Social Security isn’t a government handout. You’ve worked your whole life and paid into it because of the guarantee it promised; make Washington honor that and stop calling it an entitlement, because it isn’t.
It isn’t the seniors on Social Security causing the deficit problem. Social Security hasn’t added one dime to the deficit. The ones wanting to change Social Security benefits never talk about the two unbudgeted and unplanned wars that began under the Bush administration. They don’t want to talk about all the tax cuts George W. Bush gave the wealthy, when these funds should have been retained for a rainy day.
For the “greatest generation,” there was never the opportunity to put away a nest egg for later years with the Great Depression lasting 15 years, followed by World War II. As a result, many seniors only have $400 or $500 Social Security a month as total income. The new Affordable Health Care Act helps with prescriptions and healthy checkups. Every American needs insurance.
Janice R. Ayres is a senior advocate living in Carson City.