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Reason to Celebrate for 2.9 Million New Yorkers

August 12, 2010

NEW YORK - Social Security turns 75 this weekend. That's a cause for celebration for 2.9 million New Yorkers, many of whom rely on the program to put food on the table and make ends meet; $3.5 billion in Social Security benefits come to New Yorkers every month.

According to Chris Widelo, associate state director for advocacy with AARP-New York, Social Security is crucial for the 25 percent of New Yorkers who are over the age of 65, because it's their only source of income.

"It's a safety net for many people. We know that you really cannot retire well on Social Security alone, but it's a guaranteed benefit - it's your money that you put into the system, with a guarantee that you will receive a benefit when you retire."

Some in Congress are talking about reducing benefits as a way to cut the deficit, but a new national poll released by AARP shows that 85 percent of Americans oppose cutting Social Security for that purpose. The survey also finds that seven in 10 adults strongly oppose cutting the program.

Geneva Conway is one of the one-in-six New Yorkers who depend on Social Security. She worked 40 years in the food service industry and says she could not stay retired without that monthly check.

"Kitchen work is hard work. I would have still been working, and be on Public Assistance, if I didn't have Social Security - it's a wonderful thing."

Across all ages, almost two-thirds of Americans say their family would be hard hit if Social Security were cut.

The survey is available at www.aarp.org.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY