It’s time for some real talk on Social Security. As the right-wing continues to promote an irresponsible austerity agenda, we’re standing together with our progressive allies to shed some light on just how critical this program is to our country’s rapidly aging population.
First, it’s important to note: Social Security does not contribute one dime to the deficit. We can easily guarantee enough money in the Social Security trust fund to pay all benefits to 2075 and beyond. The simple solution is to raise or eliminate the cap on how much high earners pay into Social Security.
Social Security is our country’s largest federal program, and it’s a critical social safety net. We must protect it for future generations. Last year, it provided essential benefits to 56 million retired or disabled Americans and their dependents. Since only half of all Americans have access to a retirement plan through their work, Social Security helps millions of Americans survive after retirement.
Second, it’s important to get the facts straight: Social Security is not going bankrupt. In fact, there is a current Social Security surplus of $2.6 trillion. If protected, Social Security can deliver full benefits until 2037. Two-thirds of our country’s senior Social Security recipients depend on the program for at least half of their total income. Without monthly Social Security checks, many of today’s seniors would be forced to live in poverty.
Third, while it is critical that we recognize the value of Social Security and defend it from cuts, we should also start a conversation about fixes that could right some historic inequalities. For example, 80 percent of home care in the United States is currently provided by family caregivers who stay home to care for elderly, disabled, or sick relatives. Those who have to drop out of the workforce to care for a family member end up being penalized because social security benefits are based on average annual wages, and caregivers often have minimal or no annual income. Creating a caregiver credit would adjust benefits to at least partially make up for this injustice.
Too many of our friends, family members, and neighbors rely on Social Security – we can’t turn our backs on them now.