- Created on Sunday, 26 January 2014 11:26
- Written by John Grimaldi
Washington, DC - More Americans are reaching age 100 than ever before and that's all the more reason for a renewed focus on Social Security, according to seniors advocate Dan Weber. "These days one in 6,000 of us make it to the century mark while just 50 years ago only one in 67,000 lived that long."
The president of the Association of Mature American Citizens was joined last week at a news conference here by Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton to announce a new endeavor to get lawmakers on the Hill to ensure the long-term viability of Social Security. Tarkenton said that he joined the AMAC Board of Advisors because the association seeks to "get stuff done" and ensuring the future of Social Security "needs to get done."
In an interview after the news conference, Weber said that he, Tarkenton and the AMAC team "want a Social Security Guarantee for this generation and for future generations. It's not an entitlement handout, as many would suggest; it's an annuity they paid for all their working lives, a retirement fund that was supposed to be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. But the government now says it may not have enough money to sustain the program for very long. The Trustee's report says everyone's benefits will be cut by 25% in the future unless we act now. And, that's not good news for a population that is living longer than expected."
He cited U.S. Census data showing that an American born at the turn of the last century had a life expectancy of just 55 1/2 years, but that millennium kids born in 2001 can expect to live to an average ripe old age of 80-plus years. And, he noted, people celebrating birthdays in their 90's is up about 30%.
"Many of them might be frail, but a goodly number of them are living active lives like U.S. Navy Captain (Ret) Jack Slaughter who celebrated his 100th birthday at a gala event in Baltimore a few days ago. At his side was his wife of 75 years, Bess, who is 97 years old. They held their own during the festivities."
Weber said "for many elderly Americans, Social Security is what puts food on their tables. It's their principal source of income, meager as it might be, and they would face cruel hardships if they their monthly checks were cut."
He noted that there are numerous notions floating around Capitol Hill. Some say Social Security doesn't need fixing. This despite the fact that the experts clearly warn that it does.
In fact, the Social Security Administration states flatly on its Web site that: "legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers. If lawmakers take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits."
Weber said that he's "riled" by the attempts of some lawmakers to ignore the facts and those who seek to "obfuscate" the issue by suggesting solutions such as immigration reform on the theory that providing a pathway to citizenship will mean new workers and new funding.
"What we need is a real and dedicated solution for fixing Social Security, not pie-in-the-sky theories," Weber said. "And that solution is a simple three-part reform that includes fair and balanced age setbacks for future recipients, guaranteed minimum cost of living increases and a provision for a new personal Early Retirement Account (ERA)."