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Kentuckians Taking Message to Fancy Farm: Secure Social Security

Seniors are taking their message of securing Social Security to Kentucky's most famous political gathering, Fancy Farm. (Greg Stotelmyer)
Seniors are taking their message of securing Social Security to Kentucky's most famous political gathering, Fancy Farm. (Greg Stotelmyer)
August 5, 2016

FANCY FARM, Ky. - Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump will be at Kentucky's most famous political gathering, Fancy Farm, on Saturday, but some Kentucky seniors will be, in hopes of sending the presidential nominees a message: Secure Social Security.

Charlotte Whitaker, a retiree from Hartford, volunteers for AARP. She said she will be at the old-fashioned political picnic, pressing for leadership on the issue.

"Whoever is in there is going to have to have a plan to shore up Social Security so it will be there for my children and my grandchildren," she said. "You know, I've worked and paid in. It's not something given to me on a silver platter."

Donald Trump has vowed to save Social Security without making cuts. Hillary Clinton said she would avoid cutting or privatizing the program, and expand it for those who need it most. Whitaker said like many voters she wants more details from the candidates as concerns over the future of Social Security close in. According to the program's latest trustee's report, Social Security can only pay full benefits until 2034.

Whitaker said if something isn't done between now and then, benefits would be cut 25 percent across the board and future retirees could lose up to $10,000 a year.

"To take a hit like that will be tough for most seniors," she added. "And it's just not seniors, its children as well. I have a niece that's a single mom, disabled, with three children. She has MS. It's helped her so much with those children."

The first Fancy Farm Picnic was held in 1880, 55 years before Social Security was established. With the event in far western Kentucky long considered the unofficial kickoff to the fall campaign season, Whitaker believes it's the perfect place to make a point about updating Social Security.

"It's an exciting place to be because there certainly are a lot of politicians there," she said. "But, they're also in a position to take our message back to Washington."

Whitaker hopes the political pipeline from Kentucky, where one in five residents receives Social Security, reaches Trump and Clinton.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY