POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 4, 2010
Let's celebrate Social Security's 75th birthday on August 14 with a cheer!
For nearly 75 years, Social Security has operated as a family insurance program that serves and benefits individuals of all ages. In addition to being a retirement program, Social Security provides a substantial safety net for more than 53 million Americans, including retirees, the disabled, children and families.
Social Security also provides vital life insurance and disability insurance protection for millions of Americans, particularly children and their families. In fact, more than 6.5 million children under age 18 benefit from Social Security, as dependents of workers who have died or become disabled or as family members in households where an adult relies on Social Security. With 53 million Americans receiving much needed Social Security benefits, America is a more caring nation.
My grandparents worked at a sugar plantation from the early 1900s to the 1940s. They were among the early payers into Social Security, and upon their retirement in the early 1940s, they received Social Security retirement benefits, nominal as they were. My sister lost her husband in her 30s and was left with two young sons. She received survivor's benefits for herself and her sons until they reached age 18. These benefits helped her take care of her family. One of my neighbors suffered a disability and couldn't work. His disability benefits helped him and his family.
Personally, I've been receiving retirement benefits for several years, as have many relatives and friends. And I expect my children to receive their retirement benefits because the Social Security Trust Fund, made up of tax contributions of workers and employers, has a $2.5 trillion surplus. This fund is our fund, paid for by us. We must never let the federal government or others take it away from us.
Yet there are unscrupulous people and organizations who have been using scare tactics and spin to fool people into believing that Social Security is on the verge of bankruptcy and in need of drastic cuts or complete elimination. These efforts are targeted toward our youth, with misinformation deliberately designed to make them think that Social Security will not be there for them when they retire.
Tell your friends, children and grandchildren the truth: Social Security is solvent. It can provide full, guaranteed benefits until at least 2037. Even after 2037, the program can continue to pay more than 75 percent of promised benefits through 2083. Social Security's long-term solvency can be resolved by relatively modest adjustments and without cutting benefits. For instance, if Congress would simply let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans -- those with annual incomes over $350,000 -- the revenue produced would put Social Security in balance for the full 75 years. Likewise, if all earned income above $106,800 annually were subject to Social Security contributions, Social Security's projected long-term deficit would be mostly eliminated.
Nothing's basically wrong with Social Security. On its 75th birthday, it has exceeded the initial promise of helping the elderly avoid poverty and live with some dignity after their working days.