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Facts Everyone Should Know about Social Security


Thanks to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for a terrific breakdown of the Top 10 Facts about Social Security.  As we celebrate the program’s 80 successful years serving millions of American families this week, it’s important to remember why Social Security is so vital to our nation. 

Fact #1:

Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It provides important life insurance and disability insurance protection as well.

Fact #2:

Social Security provides a guaranteed, progressive benefit that keeps up with increases in the cost of living.

Fact #3:

Social Security provides a foundation of retirement protection for nearly every American, and its benefits are not means-tested.

Fact #4:

Social Security benefits are modest.

Fact #5:

Children have an important stake in Social Security.

Fact #6:

Close to half of the elderly would be poor without Social Security. Social Security lifts nearly 15 million elderly Americans out of poverty.

Fact #7:

Most elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income.

Fact #8:

Social Security is particularly important for minorities.

Fact #9:

Social Security is especially beneficial for women.

Fact #10:

Relatively modest changes would place Social Security on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond.

Please check out the full CBPP fact sheet here


You can also test you Social Security IQ on our 80th Anniversary Online Crossword puzzle.

 

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Standing Strong for Social Security & Medicare

The fight to defend and strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has seemed relentless in recent years as the programs have been under almost constant assault by the billion dollar anti-"entitlement" lobby and their supporters in Congress.  For staff here at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare it's been a challenging yet rewarding year as we have won many important battles in Washington to stop the shredding of America's social safety.  But it's not over yet.  

Here is our 2014-15 Annual Report for look back at a very important year in the fight to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

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National Seniors' Coalition Transfers Chairmanship to NCPSSM

NCPSSM President/CEO, Max Richtman, Assumes Chairmanship of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations

“For too many years our nation’s most successful retirement and health security programs have been under almost constant assault by those who hope to cut these programs to pay for a myriad of other purposes – from tax cuts and deficit reduction to trade deals.  These attacks come at a time when 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, our nation faces a retirement crisis and the need for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Older Americans Act programs is growing. With so much at stake and a stormy political climate ahead, the National Committee is proud to take over the leadership of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations continuing the LCAO’s important work on behalf of America’s seniors. We’re at a critical time in history and the LCAO will lead the effort to strengthen programs seniors and their families depend on.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

The 72 senior advocacy groups that comprise the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations have spent decades educating and advocating on behalf of the nation’s senior citizens.  From Social Security to long-term care issues, the LCAO has been a leading voice in the debate on how best to serve America’s senior population—current and future.  This year will be especially busy for the LCAO as 2015 marks Medicare’s 50th anniversary and the 80th anniversary for Social Security.  The White House Conference on Aging is also being held this year with LCAO organizations engaged nationwide and playing a leadership role to ensure seniors’ voices play an important role in the event.

Max Richtman’s one-year chairmanship begins June 3rd.


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Social Security Targeted on Day One of New Congress

Members of the new 114th Congress had barely taken their oaths of office today when they passed a proposal threatening millions of Americans who receive Social Security benefits.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the plan:

“Buried in the new rules that the House Republican majority {adopted} for the 114thCongress is a provision that could threaten Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries — a group of severely impaired and vulnerable Americans — with a sudden, one-fifth cut in their benefits by late 2016. The provision bars the House from replenishing the DI trust fund simply by shifting some payroll tax revenues from Social Security’s retirement trust fund.”

As NCPSSM’s Max Richtman explains, this move was pure politics:

“Today’s unprecedented House vote preventing a routine rebalancing of the Social Security Disability Trust Funds puts politics ahead of policy and partisanship ahead of people.  This House Rules change would allow a 20% benefit cut for millions of disabled Americans unless there are broader Social Security benefit cuts or tax increases improving the solvency of the combined trust funds.  It is difficult to believe that there is any purpose to this unprecedented change to House Rules other than to cut benefits for Americans who have worked hard all their lives, paid into Social Security, and rely on their Social Security benefits, including Disability, in order to survive. 

A modest and temporary reallocation of part of the 6.2 percent Social Security tax rate to the DI Trust Fund would put the entire Social Security program on an equal footing, with all benefits payable at least until 2033.  Democrats and Republicans have authorized this same strategy eleven times without controversy (including four times during the Reagan administration); however, this new House majority would rather play politics with the livelihoods of millions of Americans than solve this important funding issue.  This sends a clear message to middle-class families about the House majority’s priorities -- targeting Social Security for cuts clearly ranks high on their list.”

We’ve written before about the GOP strategy to force broad Social Security benefit cuts while simultaneously demonizing America’s disabled. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) raised the alarm about attempts to politicize what has always been a routine and non-partisan legislative solution to balance the Social Security Trust Funds:

“Reallocation has never been controversial, but detractors working to privatize Social Security will do anything to manufacture a crisis out of a routine administrative function. Modest reallocation of payroll taxes would ensure solvency of both trust funds until 2033. But if House Republicans block reallocation, insurance for disabled Americans, veterans, and children could face severe cuts once the trust fund is exhausted in 2016.”

Not only does this proposal threaten benefit cuts to people with disabilities but it also creates a false either-or scenario that pits retirees and disabled beneficiaries against each other. That’s a particularly absurd notion since the majority of disability recipients are also older, as CBPP explains:

“A reallocation would have only a tiny effect on the retirement program’s solvency. Reallocating taxes to put the two trust funds on an even footing would prolong the DI trust fund by 17 years (from 2016 to 2033), while advancing the OASI fund’s depletion by just one year (from 2034 to 2033). The reason is simple: OASI is much bigger than DI, so a modest reallocation barely dents OASI. And before then, policymakers will almost surely address Social Security solvency in a comprehensive fashion.

Most DI recipients are older people, so helping DI helps seniors. The risk of disability rises with age, and most DI beneficiaries are older. Seventy percent of disabled workers are age 50 or older, 30 percent are 60 or older, and 20 percent are 62 or older and would actually qualify as early retirees under Social Security.”

Changing the rules of the game to target Social Security in the very first hours of a new Congress sends a clear message to seniors, people with disabilities, survivors and their families – a message that certainly wasn’t shared with voters before Election Day – American families who count on Social Security in any way should beware. 

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Congress Sends Millions of Retirees a Holiday Present – An Historic Pension Cut

Tucked into the massive spending bill Congress passed this weekend was legislation that reversed 40 years of federal law protecting retirees’ pensions.  The change will allow benefit cuts for more than 1.5 million workers, many of them part of a shrinking middle-class workforce in businesses such as construction and trucking. There wasn’t a single Congressional hearing on the plan before it was slipped into the spending bill, outraging senior’s advocates...including NCPSSM.

“Allowing plans to break the fundamental ERISA promise - that pensions paid to retirees and their surviving spouses will not be reduced - represents an extreme response to a problem that can be addressed through other means by strengthening the funding of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Additionally, the National Committee is deeply concerned that this provision could set a dangerous precedent for other defined benefit programs, such as single employer plans, public sector plans and Social Security. We believe a change this fundamental to the retirement security of Americans should be subject to a Congressional hearing and should be considered by the appropriate committees, with legislative language reviewed by Congress and the public, particularly those who will be affected by these reductions.”  Letter to Congress -  Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), shares our concerns as he described to the Wall Street Journal:

“Some Democrats in particular were uneasy with the solution, saying it is being rushed through Congress and could create a dangerous precedent encouraging other retiree benefit cuts.

‘This is unprecedented and I worry about the impact on retirees and the slippery slope we’re about to head down,’ said Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), the Finance Committee chairman, in a statement. ‘I am working hard to protect retirees’ pensions, and jamming this bill through Congress virtually sight unseen is no way to solve this issue.’ “

In fact, some House Republicans see this pension cut strategy as an example of how Congress should handle Social Security in the new GOP controlled Congress.  Make no mistake about it, Congress needed to come up with a long-term solution to the multi-employer pension shortfall; however, there was no urgency plus there were other options beyond a cuts-only solution hitting current retirees with no way to prepare for a cut in their income.

“Wall Street banks, automakers and insurance giants got bailouts during the economic meltdown that started in 2008. But when it comes to the pensions of retired truck drivers, construction workers and mine workers, it seems that enough is enough.” Time.com

‘It bothers me no end that we have Congress and legislators that think that the proper way to correct problems that banks and corporations made is to take it out on the workers,’ said Dave Cook, president of Local 655 of the United Food and Commercial Workers.”  St. Louis Post Dispatch

The Pension Rights Center has a calculator on its website that lets retirees under age 75 see how much their pensions might be reduced under the bill.

 

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Pamela Causey
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Causeyp@ncpssm.org(202) 216-8378
(202) 236-2123 cell

Kim Wright
Assistant Director of Communications
Wrightk@ncpssm.org
(202) 216-8414

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