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What Would the Candidates Do to Save Social Security?

Hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans could see a sharp decline in Social Security benefits, if changes to the program aren't made soon. (iStockphoto)
Hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans could see a sharp decline in Social Security benefits, if changes to the program aren't made soon. (iStockphoto)
August 29, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. — As the November election draws ever closer, South Dakota groups are pushing for more details on the presidential candidates' plans for Social Security. The system faces growing solvency challenges as more Baby Boomers reach retirement age.

According to AARP, if no changes are made, many South Dakotans could face benefit cuts of about 25 percent by 2034. AARP South Dakota state director Erik Gaikowski said the next president should make it a priority to protect the more than 60 million retirees and people with disabilities nationwide who rely on those benefits.

"Food prices, utilities, health care continue to increase, and if you're taking an average of $4,400 out of every family across the state, it's a pretty significant chunk of change coming out of the state economy,” Gaikowski said.

About 524,000 South Dakotans are currently paying into Social Security. Gaikowski warns that if nothing changes, the next generation of recipients could lose up to $10,000 a year in benefits - pushing more seniors into poverty.

As part of AARP's "Take a Stand" campaign, both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump recently laid out a few of their ideas to keep Social Security solvent.

Gaikowski said it's a critical issue because the system creates a broad safety net for so many Americans.

"And obviously it's a presidential issue,” he said, "because we hope that they will take it up in 2017 in front of Congress and really push for those changes that need to happen, to make sure that it's solvent into the future."

Clinton has said she plans to raise the cap on the Social Security tax for the country's highest earners, so they'll be required to contribute more. Trump said he would reduce corporate tax rates to secure Social Security.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD