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Social Security Is A Senior Citizen And Activists Worry For Its Future

Tom Flanigan

At age 84, Social Security, America’s senior safety net program, is in its "Golden Years," but that may not last unless the federal government steps in. The program's birthday was marked with cake and a media event on Wednesday at Tallahassee City Hall with activists calling on congress to fully fund the Social Security trust fund. 

Nine years ago, the Social Security Administration issued a warning and a call to action.

"As a result of changes to Social Security enacted in 1983, benefits are now expected to be payable in full on a timely basis until 2037, when the trust fund reserves are projected to become exhausted. At the point where the reserves are used up, continuing taxes are expected to be enough to pay 76 percent of scheduled benefits. Thus, the Congress will need to make changes to the scheduled benefits and revenue sources for the program in the future," it said in a report. 

Each year, the figures are updated and the latest outlook has only grown worse for the safety net program. It's now expected to begin running a deficit by 2034.

Among the speakers at Tallahassee's Wednesday Social Security birthday party was Florida Alliance for Retired Americans President Bill Sauer. He called Social Security a literal lifesaver, not only for its millions of individual beneficiaries, but also the nation as a whole.

“One can speculate that 2008, instead of being the second Great Depression, was only a great recession because 57 million Americans were receiving checks from Social Security to help stimulate the economy. That didn’t exist when the stock market crashed in 1929.”

But as more Americans retire and fewer Americans work, the Social Security trust fund may be tapped out in fifteen years. Sauers’ organization is urging Congress to lift the contribution cap so that earnings above $132,000 a year will be subject to Social Security withholding.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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