Letters to the Editor

AARP to the President: Social Security payments are vital to beneficiaries

American Association of Retired Persons Chief Executive Officer A. Barry Rand sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday evening, emphasizing the critical importance of Social Security benefits as a lifeline for millions and urging that Social Security payments continue to be made regardless of Congressional action to raise the debt ceiling. AARP is focused on protecting Social Security and Medicare for the millions of beneficiaries who have paid into the systems over their working lives. Rand’s letter follows:

“Dear President Obama:

On behalf of our millions of members nationwide and all Americans age 50 and older and their families, we write to urge you to address the growing anxiety around timely Social Security payments to beneficiaries. Beneficiaries need to know that payments will continue, regardless of the Congressional discussion over an agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit. Without Social Security benefits, unprecedented hardship would befall millions of Americans who rely on these earned benefits to pay for life necessities such as food, medications, utilities and shelter. These benefits help to supplement ever-growing health and long-term care costs as well.

“In 2010, over 54 million retirees, disabled workers, widows, widowers, children and spouses received Social Security’s vital benefits. Social Security is the principal source of family income for over half of older Americans, and roughly one quarter of those aged 65 and older live in families that depend on Social Security benefits for 90 percent or more of their income. In 2009, Social Security benefits kept over 36 percent of older Americans, including 39 percent of all older women, out of poverty. Before the enactment of Social Security, more than half of those 65 and older were poor.

“Millions of Americans rely predominantly, or even completely, on the benefits they earned and receive from Social Security. These are benefits that are separately financed from the rest of the federal budget, and all agree that they have not contributed to our current budget deficit. The loss of this income would be truly devastating for many and the well-being of millions of Americans would be put in significant jeopardy. AARP therefore strongly urges you to ensure that we continue to make timely Social Security payments and to put an end to the growing anxiety that benefits could be at risk due to an impasse over the nation’s borrowing authority. While there may be disagreement over many policies, there should be no disagreement that Social Security benefits must be paid.”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.