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Social Security: Where Do the Candidates Stand?

Without action, Social Security benefits could be cut 25 percent by 2034. (401(K)2012/Flickr)
Without action, Social Security benefits could be cut 25 percent by 2034. (401(K)2012/Flickr)
April 25, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. – With the threat of huge cuts in Social Security benefits in the future, some voters are asking what plans the presidential candidates have to update the system.

The latest report by the Social Security trustees estimates that, if nothing is done, benefits could be cut by 25 percent in just 18 years.

AARP also has been asking the candidates what they would do, and Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director for AARP Pennsylvania, says four of the five leading candidates have responded.

"Some of the ideas that have come up are increasing the retirement age, means-testing higher incomes, increasing the payroll tax, indexing benefits to prices,” he states. “Some of the candidates believe in private accounts for Social Security."

AARP has posted the candidates' responses online at 2016TakeaStand.org.

Pennsylvania has the fourth-oldest population of all the states in the nation.

Johnston-Walsh points out that with 6.8 million Pennsylvanians currently paying into Social Security, all hoping to collect benefits when they retire, there's a lot at stake.

"We're concerned that the future generations coming up aren't saving the way they should, and we're worried that they're going to have just Social Security to live on,” he says. “And we have to keep that safety net there."

The Social Security system is 80 years old but hasn't had a major update since the Reagan administration.

Johnston-Walsh says political candidates have been talking about the problem for years, but now, they need to talk about solutions.

"The longer we wait, the harder the problem will be to solve and the less time workers will have to prepare for their future,” he states. “We can't kick the can down the road anymore. It's just not an option."

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA