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Future of Social Security Begins Now

Without action on Social Security, a report says, poverty among New York seniors could rise 63 percent. (Thomas E. Smith/Wikimedia Commons)
Without action on Social Security, a report says, poverty among New York seniors could rise 63 percent. (Thomas E. Smith/Wikimedia Commons)
August 16, 2016

NEW YORK - Social Security turned 81 years-old this week, but new analysis shows trouble ahead if national leaders don't act soon. The study by AARP said unless the president and Congress strengthen the Social Security trust fund, New Yorkers paying into the system now could see across-the-board cuts of nearly 25 percent by 2034. According to Laura Palmer, associate state director for community engagement with AARP New York, for the average family in the state, that could be a loss of more than $4,000 a year.

"It could also be a 63 percent increase in the number of people living below the poverty level over the age of 65, which is absolutely terrifying to me," she said.

AARP has launched a national campaign at takeastand.aarp.org, to pressure the presidential candidates to show leadership on Social Security.

The problem, Palmer said, is due in part to the large numbers of baby boomers now reaching retirement age, with relatively fewer young workers paying into the system. But she also pointed out that the cap on earnings subject to Social Security tax hasn't kept pace with rising incomes.

"So there's a lot of people out there making a lot of money that is not taxed for the purposes of Social Security," she added.

Palmer added that the longer national leaders take to address the problem, the harder it will be to solve.

No matter who wins the election this fall, she said the next administration and the new Congress will be critical to the future of Social Security.

"It's a window of political opportunity to make the changes that will ensure not that I just get Social Security, but the millennials and their children and their children's children will be able to get those benefits that they have paid into," she said.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY