Poll: Older Americans Say 'No' to Social Security Changes

Studio shot of social security card and banknotes
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CHICAGO -- Raise the age at which you can begin collecting full Social Security benefits? Older Americans say no. They also veto reductions in the cost-of-living increase.

But a poll finds support among those 50 and older for raising the cap on earnings that are taxed to fund the Social Security program so higher-income workers pay more.

The survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds passionate opposition to any change in the way Social Security benefits are calculated that could result in smaller annual raises.

Some 62 percent of respondents expressed opposition to such a proposal, compared with 21 percent who supported it.

The chained CPI, or consumer price index, has been proposed as a new way of calculating the cost-of-living adjustment, but it would reduce raises.

"I really think it's a sacred cow," said Margie Nugent, a 55-year-old farmer from North Umberland, Pa. "They shouldn't touch it."

Some 58 percent oppose gradually raising the age when retirees qualify for full benefits, while 29 percent support it. About one-third believe people should be eligible for full benefits before 65. Only 10 percent say full eligibility should come after 67, the top eligibility age under current law.

"I contributed to it. It's my money," said Joan McDonald, 65, of Annapolis, Md., who retired as an accountant this year and began collecting Social Security. "The plan was, 'Contribute this and you get this.' You can't change the rules."

Survey respondents showed more willingness to support Social Security proposals that would mostly impact those with higher incomes.

Forty-one percent expressed support for reducing benefits for seniors with higher incomes, compared with 44 percent who opposed the proposal. Whites were much more supportive of reducing benefits for high-earning seniors than minorities.

Changes to Social Security are on the horizon because the trust funds that support the massive retirement and disability program are projected to run dry in 2033. At that point, Social Security would only collect enough taxes to pay about three-fourths of benefits. If Congress doesn't act, benefits automatically would be cut by about 25 percent.

A new round of budget talks underway in Washington could produce proposals to change Social Security.

In previous budget talks, President Barack Obama has proposed adopting the chained CPI, making it one of the few issues on which he and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, agree. Other groups, including Obama's 2010 deficit commission, have proposed raising the age when retirees can get full Social Security benefits.

Among older Americans, the poll found the most popular idea for improving the program's finances was raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes. Currently, the cap is $113,700, meaning those earning more don't pay Social Security taxes on wages above that threshold.

Some 61 percent of people favored raising the cap, compared with 25 percent opposing it. Among Democrats, support was at 73 percent; among Republicans, it was 45 percent.

"If the rich get richer, they should pay," said Rhonda Rossi, 56, of South Bend, Ind. "If they're multimillionaires, they don't need Social Security. They could live off their interest."

Rossi collects Social Security disability benefits of about $950 a month due to kidney failure. Even with that, she struggles to have enough to buy groceries at the end of the month. She says any talk of reducing benefits makes her nervous.

"I got sick and if I didn't have the Social Security, I don't know how I would live, I really don't. I'm struggling as it is now," she said. The politicians don't live day by day like I do."

The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted Aug. 8 through Sept. 10 by NORC at the University of Chicago, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It involved landline and cellphone interviews in English and Spanish with 1,024 people aged 50 and older nationwide. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

-Associated Press writers Stephen Ohlemacher and Dennis Junius, and director of polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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November 28 2013 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If a person is forced to pay money into the system, he should be able to get his money out, regardless of what he makes from other sources or inherits. Those making over certain amounts are already penalized by having to pay $527.20 or more a month for medicare, part b and drugs as opposed to just $95.60 for those making under 214,000 filing jointly. Married filing jointly making under 170,000 pay a pittance. People who live conservatively and save are being discriminated against.

November 13 2013 at 12:16 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Pols trying to rob Medicare and Social Security, they are determined to keep
doing it and not pay back the $ 1.4 Trillion in Notes issued to borrow the
Social Security Funds.

Vote Them Out !

November 12 2013 at 11:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This administration, and its president, are incapable of telling the truth. In spite of what O'blabla might say, if a bill crosses his desk to lower or in any way delay benefits, he will gladly sign it!!!

November 12 2013 at 11:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

This is from 2011, so some of it has changes ..........
History Lesson on Your Social Security Card
July 13, 2011 at 6:47am

Just in case some of you young whippersnappers (& some older ones) didn't know this.

It's easy to check out, if you don't believe it. Be sure and show it to your family

and friends. They need a little history lesson on what's what and it doesn't matter

whether you are Democrat or Republican. Facts are Facts.

Social Security Cards up until the 1980s expressly stated the number and

card were not to be used for identification purposes.Since nearly everyone in the

United States now has a number, it became convenient to use it anyway and the

message, NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION, was removed.

An old Social Security card with the "NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION" message.

Our Social Security

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social

Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be

Completely voluntary,

No longer Voluntary

2.) That the participants would only have to pay

1% of the first $1,400 of their annual

Incomes into the Program,

Now 7.65%

on the first $90,000

3.) That the money the participants elected to put

into the Program would be deductible from

their income for tax purposes each year,

No longer tax deductible

4.) That the money the participants put into the

independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the

general operating fund, and therefore, would

only be used to fund the Social Security

Retirement Program, and no other

Government program, and,

Under Johnson the money was moved to

The General Fund and Spent

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed

as income.

Under Clinton & Gore

Up to 85% of your Social Security can be Taxed

Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are

now receiving a Social Security check every month --

and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of

the money we paid to the Federal government to 'put

away' -- you may be interested in the following:

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ----

Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the

independent 'Trust Fund' and put it into the

general fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the democratically

controlled House and Senate.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax

deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -----

Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social

Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the

'tie-breaking' deciding vote as President of the

Senate, while he was Vice President of the US

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Q: Which Political Party decided to start

giving annuity payments to immigrant

November 12 2013 at 11:03 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

"I contributed to it. It's my money," ..."The plan was, 'Contribute this and you get this.' You can't change the rules." Interesting how faith in government is so easily proved wrong. Decades ago Government announced that the money was theirs not yours. and you have no claim to benefits. Liberal "progressive" Johnson changed those rules for you for ever. Governments promise all kinds of things to buy votes. It's not their money after all. They take money very easily, but expecting to get it back is silly. Vote democrat only if you want more of this vote and election buying.

November 12 2013 at 10:59 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Wait what??? People who have been paying into a program for the last 35 years don't want to wait longer to start seeing the return on this "investment" (I use that in the loosest sense imaginable...)

I am completely shocked by that!

I bet if you asked these people 30 years ago they would have supported raising the age or completely scrapping the program.

Oh well, Mile's law is in effect.

November 12 2013 at 10:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

when you reflect on how much you paid into social security don't forget to add in the 100% match that your employer had to kick in, money they could have paid you instead! the poli"ticks" (blood-******* parasites) get their retirement even if they only serve one term! these are the same guys that exempted themselves from obama-care, which apparently isn't good enough for them, but is fine for the peasantry. i'd go on but you know how they are.

November 12 2013 at 10:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Social Security (our retirement money) was combined with the medicaid (welfare) program over 10 years ago. Both departments come out of the same budget. I don\'t have enough monthly social security retirement coming in and unable to buy medicare. The utility companies increase their rates every 6 months for the past 15 years where I live, food increases in price every year and the water company doubled their rates this year. Without an annual cost of living increase means I will have to file for welfare assistance. That means if the government eliminates our cost of living, financially there is no gain for the government because it will increase the payout from welfare. Go after the fathers that don\'t pay child support because that would create a financial savings for free daycare, free S.N.A.P, free cell phones and free healthcare for their children and ex-spouses who don\'t work. Also, don\'t throw the elderly in the streets when our government is giving our tax payer money to:

U.S. Foreign Aid to other countries.
Tanzania ($531 million
Ethiopia ($580 million)
Nigeria ($625 million)
Kenya ($625 million)
Jordan ($676 Million)
Egypt ($1.5 billion)
Iraq ($1.7 billion)
Pakistan ($2.1 billion)
Afghanistan ($2.3 billion)
Israel ($3.1 billion in 2012)

November 12 2013 at 10:31 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

how can it run out? The money has been going in for years The only thing I can think of is the greedy jerks in office borrowed from it and don\'t want to pay it back. I think you should give me everything that has been paid in my ss# and give to me and to hell with you guys I will invest my own. You have already proved you know nothing about investing we the peoples money

November 12 2013 at 9:57 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply