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Social Security Turns 80: Hot Topic for Some Presidential Candidates

New Hampshire advocates say it only makes sense for Granite State voters to track the candidates when it comes to proposed changes to Social Security. Credit: Wikimedia CommonsSocial Security turns 80 on Friday, and last week came under fire during the Republican candidates' debate in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Recent polling in early primary states shows support for the program cuts across party lines. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
New Hampshire advocates say it only makes sense for Granite State voters to track the candidates when it comes to proposed changes to Social Security. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Social Security turns 80 on Friday, and last week came under fire during the Republican candidates' debate in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Recent polling in early primary states shows support for the program cuts across party lines. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
August 14, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. - It's no secret that candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have to fight just to get onto the debate stage. Some candidates are proposing changes to Social Security, as - coincidentally - the program turns 80 today.

It only makes sense for voters to keep track of the changes the candidates for president are proposing, said Stephen Gorin, executive director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, especially in the first-in-the-nation primary state. So far, he said, it is the Republican candidates who seem to be more willing to tinker with the program.

"Chris Christie has talked about essentially phasing the program out," he said. "Jeb Bush has talked about increasing the retirement age, which would adversely impact many people."

Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Social Security provides retirement and disability benefits as well as survivor benefits to the families of deceased workers.

Gorin said there has been lots of political polling in the states that will be contested first, and polls show broad support for Social Security in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

"This cut across party lines," he said. "In New Hampshire, 56 percent of Republicans opposed reducing the Social Security benefit, 77 percent of Democrats did and 76 percent of independents. So, it's really all parties that are against any kind of change."

While the program generally is identified as supporting people during their retirement years, Gorin said, Social Security also is the single largest program that provides benefits to younger Americans. Currently, he said, more than 280,000 New Hampshire residents receive Social Security benefits.

Polling data is online at socialsecurityworks.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH