Opposers of Social Security protection or expansion–or its existence at all–love rehashing the fact Social Security was never designed to be the sole source of a person’s income during retirement. Those stretching their benefits with no alternative income sources are stuck in their financially perilous situation because they didn’t save or prepare or realize Social Security is strictly a supplementary benefit–at least, that’s what the implication is (sometimes we don’t even get the courtesy of an implication–it’s just too bad, so sad, your fault).
These people fail to take into account the series of events and economic realities that make so many Americans unable to build sufficient retirement savings–many of which are out of our control and begin well before we approach retirement.
It’s this combination of factors we refer to when we talk about the retirement crisis facing seniors today: stagnant wages creating low benefits and the inability save, the slow growth and unpredictability of 401(k)s and IRAs (for those who have them–many don’t receive these benefits through their employers), vanishing defined benefit pensions, mounting student loan debt, aggressive Social Security cuts since the 1980s, and the brutally rising costs of healthcare.
Through all of these economic difficulties, Social Security has proven its value. Social Security benefits are more important to seniors today than ever before. But even still, we’re yet again facing the possibility of dramatic cuts to our benefits. And we will be the ones telling our stories and forcing our legislators to protect the benefits we EARNED.
Here is a fantastic webinar presented by Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) featuring several Social Security Works leaders. It breaks down the true causes of the retirement crisis in America and why cuts to Social Security aren’t an option. It also explains the importance of everyday retirees in the fight to protect our Trust Fund, and how you can use your narrative to motivate others.