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Social SecurityEighty years ago today, President Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act, creating one of our nation’s most important social programs. Since 1935, Social Security has kept millions of working Americans out of poverty, allowing them to live with dignity through the difficulties of old age or the loss of spouses and parents. Today, the program lifts nearly 15 million seniors and 1.2 million children out of poverty.

For years, retirees have relied on a combination of Social Security, employer pensions, and other savings, to support their retirement. Over the past few decades, the number of employers who provide pensions have decreased. Additionally, stagnant wages and wealth inequality mean many working people are unable to save enough during their work-life to support them throughout retirement.

A recent report from the U.S. General Accounting Office shows that across the nation, 29% of people age 55 or older have neither an employer pension nor any type of retirement savings. North Carolina is no exception. Between 2001 and 2013, the percentage of employees without employer provided pensions rose continuously. Today, more than 60% of working North Carolinians over 18 have no employer pensions, and one in three retirees depends on Social Security benefits as their only source of retirement income.

More than ever before, Social Security benefits are a crucial staple in retirement security.

Social Security does much more than fund retirement. Read More

Commentary

AARP-80thBday-Print_v1 (4)The following essay was written by Doug Dickerson, Director of AARP of North Carolina

Celebrate a Bedrock for Financial Security – 80 Years of Social Security

Americans are celebrating the 80th anniversary of Social Security today, a program that has become the bedrock for financial security for all Americans as we get older. AARP pays tribute Social Security’s long-term success because it has kept millions of older people and their families out of poverty and helped people age with independence and dignity.

Today 59 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, including 1,907,394 North Carolinians. AARP’s Humans of Social Security is a great way to hear from people who talk about what the program means to them.

In North Carolina, Social Security is an important way of keeping older adults out of poverty and is a critical way to stimulate local economies accounting for $22 billion in local spending.

In 2014, 44 percent of the state’s 65+ population would have had incomes below the poverty line if they did not receive Social Security. 30 percent of Social Security recipients in the state rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income, and 59.5 percent of recipients rely on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their income.

North Carolinians have earned their Social Security benefits by paying into the program throughout their working lives. Yet with 11,000 people in the country turning 65 each day for the next 15 years, and with people living longer, this program faces challenges in the future. A 2015 report from the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees concluded, “Lawmakers should address the financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible. Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare.”

According to AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, “One of the most important questions is, ‘how should these programs be addressed?’ The answer affects how much people will pay into these programs while they are working and how much they will receive when they begin to draw benefits,” Jenkins said.

AARP believes as we ponder the answer to this important question, we must recognize two fundamental tenets. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center, Poverty and Income Data 2013

Social SecurityAccording to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2013 the percentage of older adults (65+) whose incomes fall below the federal poverty threshold is lower than it is for children and non-elderly adults. 1 in 10 (10% exactly) older adults in North Carolina lived in poverty in 2013, compared to 17.9% of the state’s population overall and 25.2% of children. The percentage of North Carolina’s older adults living in poverty in 2013 is one percentage point higher than it was in 2007 when the recession hit.

The reason for the comparatively low rate of poverty amongst older adults is plain and simple – Social Security. Established in 1935, this relatively simple and universal public program continues to accomplish its primary purpose of providing basic economic security for older Americans. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Today is the 78th birthday for Social Security, the flagship safety net initiative for our nation’s seniors, surviving spouses and children, and disabled workers.  Since first created in 1935, Social Security has kept millions of working Americans out of poverty, allowing them to live with dignity in difficult times of old age or the loss of spouses and parents.

As a new report from the Alliance of Retired Americans makes clear, the benefits of Social Security for North Carolinians in particular are obvious. Perhaps most notably, Social Security provided benefits to 1.2 million of our state’s seniors in 2012, effectively keeping almost 500,000 of them out of poverty. Almost 1 million of these recipients were women.

As Congress debates the future of the federal budget, it remains vitally important that seniors, children, and those with disabilities be protected from unnecessary and damaging cuts to the benefits provided by Social Security. Instead, Social Security needs to be protected and strengthened for future generations, and the best way to accomplish that goal is take a balanced approach to the federal budget, one that increases new revenues by closing the tax loopholes and special giveaways that allow corporations to evade paying taxes. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, more than $1 trillion in new revenues can be raised by closing these loopholes.

So on Social Security’s birthday, it’s important to remember: rather than ask Seniors and our most vulnerable to bear the brunt of reducing the federal budget deficit, it makes far more sense to take a balanced approach that raises new revenues through the elimination of these corporate loopholes.

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Dean BakerOne of the country’s keenest economic policy observers, Dean Baker, has an excellent take down of Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson’s latest demands that the U.S. slash social spending this morning at the Center for Economic and Policy Research website. His message: America’s obsession with near-term deficits remains utterly illogical and counterproductive: 

“First, the budget is only constrained at the moment by superstition. There is no obstacle to the government borrowing more money to meet needs and put people back to work. We are not spending more money because we have superstitious people with large amounts of power who are making claims about the dangers of deficits that they cannot support with evidence. Rather than lecturing seniors, who have a median income of $20,000, on the need for lower Social Security and Medicare benefits, Obama could try to confront the people spreading superstitions about deficits….

…In fact, according to the Social Security Trustees projections, Read More