Baby boomers generally oppose changing the rules on Social Security

Baby boomers could be affected by the outcome of budget talks underway again in Washington, because in the interest of saving Social Security, those talks could change some of the rules; current projections have Social Security going dry in 20 years. A recent poll of Americans 50 and older (which of course is us) found passionate opposition to any change in how Social Security benefits are calculated … if it results in smaller annual raises.

Raise the age at which you can begin collecting full Social Security benefits? Older Americans say no. They also veto reductions in the cost-of-living increase.

But a poll finds support among those 50 and older for raising the cap on earnings that are taxed to fund the Social Security program so higher-income workers pay more.

social_security_cardThe chained CPI, or consumer price index, has been proposed as a new way of calculating the cost-of-living adjustment, but it would reduce raises.

“I really think it’s a sacred cow,” said Margie Nugent, a 55-year-old farmer from North Umberland, Pa. “They shouldn’t touch it.”

58 percent oppose gradually raising the age when retirees qualify for full benefits, while 29 percent support it. About one-third believe people should be eligible for full benefits before 65. Only 10 percent say full eligibility should come after 67, the top eligibility age under current law.

“I contributed to it. It’s my money,” said Joan McDonald, 65, of Annapolis, Md., who retired as an accountant this year and began collecting Social Security. “The plan was, ‘Contribute this and you get this.’ You can’t change the rules.”

socialsecuritySurvey respondents showed more willingness to support Social Security proposals that would mostly impact those with higher incomes.

Forty-one percent expressed support for reducing benefits for seniors with higher incomes, compared with 44 percent who opposed the proposal.

President Barack Obama has proposed adopting the chained CPI, making it one of the few issues on which he and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, agree. Other groups, including Obama’s 2010 deficit commission, have proposed raising the age when retirees can get full SocialSecurity benefits.

Among older Americans, the poll suggested the most popular idea for improving the program’s finances was raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes. Currently, the cap is $113,700, meaning those earning more do not pay Social Security taxes on wages above that threshold.

6 Comments

  1. I guess I am one of those baby boomers that do not fit the mold. Social security was designed to assist you when you retired, it was not meant to be the only funds one lived on. It was also developed when the age people were thought to live to was much lower. The fact is, as presently structured, it cannot continue. Those under forty should understand that they will live much longer than those who came before them, and frankly they will, unless everything falls apart, live a more healthy life. That the retirement age to receive full benefits should not be raised to reflect the new “facts on the ground” seems rather straight forward. I agree raising the age of retirement to those almost reaching it would not be fair or just.
    I also have trouble understanding why we even have a cap on social security payments. Most people will pay social security for their entire lives. Meaning they will never make over today’s threshold of $113,000 a year. So why not have everyone continually contribute no matter what they make. This would be treating everyone fairly. And it would stop the divisiveness currently being sown in this country. It would also go a long way toward eliminating the fiscal crisis surrounding social security.

  2. I believe that legacy programs, like Social Security, Medicare, and aid for the poor in America are much maligned by politicians who are neither covered by the programs nor ever will be because of their special and exclusive congressional plans.

    They whine about these programs as a smokescreen, I believe, to cover the billions of dollars wasted on corporate subsidies and waging an ever-increasing arms business.

  3. The truth is, we have to consider adjustments to Social Security and Medicare because the programs can’t be sustained as is. Adjustments are needed, but there’s no need for panic. Relatively small changes can have huge impacts. It been done before you know. Richard Nixon raised the Income cap in 1972, and then in 1977 Jimmy Carter presided over making Income Cap increases automatic. It’s because of these changes that all us baby boomers can count on our checks. I know it’s easy to say: “Don’t touch my Social Security,” but we have to be cognizant of the realities that surround this very important program.

  4. Resin ally my husband and I are age 61/62. Had it not been for the Great Recession we would still be in out home., still working at out jobs. Luckily we have a pretty good amount in our pension fund which we have been drawing on to live. Hubby started collecting partial SS this year and is working a menial dishwashing job so we have medical benefits. Raising the age to collect would be awful for those of us who cannot find work in any field close to our professions at our late stage in life! Everyone should be paying into SS no matter how much they earn!

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