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Case Against Cutting Social Security

The case against cutting Social Security is strong.

· Social Security benefits are modest by any measure and are already being cut – by raising the age of eligibility for full benefits and by deducting ever-rising Medicare premiums from benefit checks.

· The cuts already in law add up to a19 percent reduction for people born in 1960 and later, see the National Academy of Social Insurance report, “Social Security Beneficiaries Face 19 Percent Cut; New Revenue Can Restore Balance.”

· Cutting benefits further could undermine much of what Social Security has achieved and expose millions of vulnerable people – elderly and disabled – to unnecessary hardship.

· Benefits are vital to nearly all recipients: about a third of elderly recipients reply on benefits for 90 percent  or more of their income; two-thirds count on it to supply at least half their income. The program lifts nearly 20 million Americans out of poverty, including 1 million children.

· Other sources of retirement support are shrinking. Private pension plans continue to dwindle, covering only about 20 percent  of private sector workers. Home equity is far less secure, as millions of Americans are underwater with debt exceeding the value of their homes.

· In today’s increasingly risky world, Americans value Social Security and will pay to keep it strong. Across party lines, Democrats, Republicans and independents say they don’t mind paying for Social Security because they value the security and stability it provides to those who receive it. Across age groups, workers say they would rather pay for Social Security than see benefits cut.

Reno is vice president for income security policy for the National Academy of Social Insurance