Seniors hear about Social Security options

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What will the future hold for those on Social Security?

The Suffolk Chapter of the AARP (Chapter 4030) heard a presentation from Social Security expert Diane Sinclair, who addressed that question and others during their monthly meeting on Tuesday morning at the Open Door Church.

“The key message here is that Social Security needs to be strengthened, but the solution shouldn’t be worse than the problem,” Sinclair said.

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Speaking mostly about possible future legislation that could introduce a private-account option within Social Security and workers’ payroll taxes, Sinclair offered alternative reform ideas. AARP’s position is against personal accounts.

“We’re concerned about (private accounts) because it takes guaranteed money out of the system when it’s needed now,” Sinclair said during a series of slides.

AARP’s projections of Social Security’s solvency estimates benefits will remain at 100 percent of expected returns through 2041, at which time benefits would drop to about 70 percent.

The primary reform option voiced by Sinclair was to increase the level of earned annual wages subject to payroll taxes from $90,000 to $140,000.

The risk of private accounts losing money once invested, and the projected debt such legislation could cause, were other reasons given against lawmakers bringing personal accounts into Social Security.

“Contact your legislators,” Sinclair said, “they’re not really thinking about this right now.

It’s on the back burner and it shouldn’t be.”

In a March 2005 telephone poll of 1,000 AARP members, only 29 percent of those surveyed supported private accounts while 46 percent were “strongly opposed.”