Long Islanders said the 2016 presidential candidates and campaign need to focus more on Social Security and its future, and they posed questions to experts at an AARP community forum at Hofstra University just days before the university hosted the first presidential debate of the campaign.
Hofstra Executive Dean for Suburban Studies Lawrence Levy and AARP’s Director of Financial Security & Consumer Affairs Cristina Martin-Firvida joined AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel in the community conversation with more than 100 Long Islanders.
“The population of Long Island and many other suburbs is getting older and older, and most of these people are not now or will not be wealthy or anything close,” said Levy. “They also may not have the pensions and other savings of prior generations. That means Social Security will be an ever more important part of maintaining quality of life for more and more people and the economic vitality of the communities in which they live.”
Social Security benefits will be cut by nearly 25 percent in 2034 if the program is not updated; such a cut to the popular program into which working Americans pay every day to earn their benefits would mean the loss of about $4,200 a year in today’s dollars for the average New Yorker age 65 and above, according to a recent AARP analysis.
Meanwhile, a recent survey of AARP members showed that those in New York rate having Social Security available to them in the future as their top economic concern, with 87 percent saying they’re “extremely” or “very” concerned about it.
“We’re looking at a 25 percent cut in less than 18 years unless our leaders in Washington act to update Social Security for the 21st Century,” said Finkel. “It’s important that our leaders address Social Security’s solvency—and soon.”
In fact, Social Security generated over $87 billion in economic activity in New York state in 2012, according to AARP’s Public Policy Institute.
“AARP launched our ‘Take A Stand’ campaign this year to urge the presidential candidates to lay out their plans to update Social Security, to act if elected, and to urge congressional candidates to commit to work with the new administration to get it done,” said Martin-Firvida. “Options for heading off a 25 percent benefit cut become much more difficult the longer we wait. We need to hear what the candidates would do, and we need action next year during the all-important first year of what could be an eight-year administration.”