We have a real retirement crisis.
- Corporations have eliminated retirement pensions for most workers.
- The middle class is shrinking and hurting.
- Over half of all Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings at all.
For most average Americans, Social Security is the only thing that will protect them from extreme poverty in old age.
- Because of Social Security, our elderly poverty rate is 9%.
- Without it, the poverty rate for old people would be 44%.
Social Security has proven itself as a rock-solid foundation of the middle class.
- It provides virtually all the income for 1/3 of retirees.
- It provides 50% or more of the income for 2/3 of all retirees.
- It has kept millions of senior citizens, widows, orphans, and the disabled from extreme poverty.
Those trying to cut, privatize, and destroy Social Security falsely claim it is broke or contributing to our deficit.
- The truth is Americans have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits by paying taxes all their working lives.
- And Social Security now has a $2.89 trillion surplus.
- Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit because it uses no money from the federal budget.
Social Security is completely self-funded by workers’ contributions. It is amazingly efficient, with operating costs of just half of 1%.
Social Security Has Low Benefits & Very Little Fraud
Our Social Security benefits are actually very low.
- The US provides lower Social Security benefits than most developed countries, ranking 26th out of the top 30 developed nations.
- Our Social Security disability program restricts eligibility more harshly and has stingier payments than all but one of the top 34 nations.
Many people applying for Social Security lose all their financial resources, homes, or even die or kill themselves while waiting for help.
- Salvador Santa Cruz worked 12 hours a day until exhaustion and endless coughing stopped him.
- Doctors found lung fibrosis disabled Cruz but Social Security refused his claim for 2½ years until after he died.
- Randal Darby lost his teaching job when he became disoriented from diabetes, then opened a coffee shop to keep working.
- Darby had to give that up when his customers sometimes found him in a near-coma and when his numb hands dropped cups and dishes and got burns he didn’t feel.
- Darby also died before Social Security granted him disability.
- Army sergeant and single mother Lauri Wells had to quit working because of 11 medical conditions.
- Wells lost everything and lived in poverty because it took Social Security 7 years to agree she was disabled and start retroactive benefits.
Despite what some people think, it’s not easy to get disability here, disability fraud is not rampant, and disability claims are not skyrocketing.
In fact, people on disability are 3 to 6 times more likely to die than people in their age group not on disability.
Social Security Cuts
Over the last 16 years, Congress has cut nearly every Social Security budget request, constantly reducing how much of the agency’s own $2.8 trillion it can use.
This has cut 597 offices and cut its workforce by 25,000, despite an exploding workload with ever more baby boomers retiring.
- Now over one million people are waiting for decisions on their disability claims.
- They wait an average of 19 months for the disability decision.
- Some people go homeless while waiting.
- Many wait hours just to talk to a worker.
Republicans are deliberately causing the agency’s problems to sabotage it, claim it is broke, and privatize it so Wall Street and billionaires can make money on it.
Let’s Strengthen Social Security
Polls show most Americans do not want to cut Social Security (or Medicare).
Congress could very easily improve Social Security services by letting it use just 1/10 of 1% more of the $2.89 trillion we’ve already paid for its services.
The richer you are, the less percentage of your income you pay to Social Security.
- Millionaires and billionaires pay no social security tax at all on any earnings beyond $132,900.
- That means we actually fail to collect social security tax on more than 86% of all wages.
- Because of this foolish rule, nearly 10,000 wealthy people pay Social Security taxes on just their first week or two of work, then none for the rest of the year, every year!
- Nearly 1,000 of these people only pay Social Security taxes for only a day or two of their work each year!
- In 2016 alone, rich people didn’t pay any Social Security tax on $1.2 trillion in earnings.
This is ridiculous, when the working poor struggle to pay the Social Security tax on everything they earn.
The way we fund it now, Social Security won’t be able to pay its full benefits to Americans in 2035.
But by simply charging the rich the same Social Security tax rate that poor people pay on all their wages, their fair share, we could collect enough ($13.2 trillion) to pay the full Social Security benefit until 2092.
The vast majority of Americans, 90% of Democrats and 73% of both Republicans and Independents, support increasing Social Security and paying for it by making the rich pay into Social Security at the same rate as everybody else.
We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world and richer than ever before.
There is no need to cut programs that strengthen our economy by supporting the middle class and helping our poor and elderly, like Social Security and Medicare.
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