Survey Finds Americans Lack Confidence in Social Security’s Future
Eighty-five years ago, the Social Security Act was signed into law. While the program this bill created is still in effect today, it continues to be a somewhat controversial topic. More specifically, there are those who worry that the program won’t be sustainable going forward. Now, a survey from AARP shows that a majority of Americans are not confident that Social Security can last nor be relied upon for their retirement.
First, the survey found that nearly three-quarters of respondents believe they will not be able to live solely off of their Social Security benefits when they retire. This includes 38% who are “very concerned” that this will be the case, compared to only 8% who aren’t worried at all. Similarly, 65% of those surveyed said that the average monthly benefit of $1,503 was too low, with one-third saying the figure was “about right.”
As for the Social Security program itself, 57% of those surveyed by AARP say they aren’t confident about its future. Moreover, 17% stated they are “not at all confident” while a mere 6% were “very confident” that the program would last. Respondents aged 30 to 49 proved to be the most pessimistic, with 72% stating that they were not confident in the future of Social Security.
Among those who did express faith in Social Security’s longevity, 34% cited the amount of time the program had been around as part of their reasoning. Additionally, 27% noted that the program had always paid its benefits and 21% said that they trusted the government to keep its promises regarding Social Security. On the other side, 26% of those skeptical of the program’s ability to hold on said they think it is running out of money. Meanwhile, 16% said that politicians have taken money from the program in the past and, in the reverse of the proponents, 29% did not trust the government to keep its promises.
Despite these concerns, an overwhelming majority of Americans describe Social Security as being important. In fact, 68% said it was among the most important programs. Interestingly, self-identified Republicans were slightly less likely to say that Social Security was important overall (93%) while independents were even a tad below that (92%).
Summing up the survey’s findings, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond said, “It’s crystal clear that Americans of all generations value the economic stability Social Security has offered for the last 85 years—even more so as we face the health and economic challenges of a global pandemic.” LeaMond went on to note, “With so many Americans struggling to afford health care and other basic needs, Social Security is more important than ever— and AARP will never stop fighting to strengthen Social Security and make sure hard-working Americans get the benefits they’ve earned.”
Not mentioned in AARP’s survey (which was conducted in July) are President Trump’s recent actions regarding Social Security. Following an executive action to defer the payroll tax that helps fund Social Security, the President has also teased the possibility of terminating this tax altogether. While this has been walked back some, it only makes the program’s future that much more uncertain. So, as Social Security celebrates 85 years today, only time will tell how long it will last.