The survey also found that regardless of age, 85% of adults oppose cutting Social Security to reduce the federal deficit, with more than seven out of ten (72%) strongly opposing it.
According to a press release, over three-quarters (77%) of non-retired respondents are worried that they may not have enough money to live in retirement. Half said they are willing to pay more now in payroll taxes to ensure Social Security will be there for them when they retire, a finding AARP says has remained consistent over time. Over half (57%) of adults under age 50 would prefer to pay more into Social Security so they can get the same level of benefits provided today as opposed to keeping payroll tax rates at current levels in exchange for lower benefits.
Eight in ten respondents 18+ (81%) said they believe the government made a commitment to Americans about Social Security being there for them when they retire, and that the government cannot break its promise. In addition, over eight in ten Americans (83%) agree that regardless of income, everyone who pays into Social Security should receive it.
The press release said that consistent with previous surveys, a strong majority (63%) believe Social Security is one of the most important programs in this country, with nine out of ten (90%) younger adults age 18-29 saying that Social Security is an important government program. Among non-retirees who are not confident about the future of Social Security, 84% agree with the statement: “Maybe I won’t need Social Security when I retire, but I definitely want to know it’s there just in case I do.”
The survey indicated the public’s lower level of confidence in the future of Social Security can be partially explained by the lack of awareness about solvency. Only one in five (21%) Americans knew that if the Social Security trust fund is exhausted in 2037, Social Security could still pay reduced benefits.
Respondents overwhelmingly support Social Security’s protections for people who are disabled and for children and widowed spouses of deceased workers (91%). Almost two-thirds (65%) say their family would be hard hit if Social Security were cut, including 72% of adults whose household annual income is less than $50,000. Eighty percent of respondents appreciate that Social Security alleviates the financial burden of taking care of parents, and 88% of non-retired adults believe Social Security helps older Americans remain independent.
Across all ages, nearly eight in ten (79%) Americans surveyed agree that Social Security should continue to provide guaranteed benefits while few (19%) think that it should be more like an investment account, subject to risk of possible losses. Half of Americans believe that Social Security payments for retirees are too low.
“The message from people of all ages to Washington is clear – don’t erode the one bedrock of retirement security that unites all Americans,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, in the press release.
AARP commissioned GfK Roper to conduct a national random digit dial (RDD) telephone survey of 1,200 adults aged 18 or older. A total of 781 respondents were not retired and 419 were retired. Interviews were conducted from July 15 – 27, 2010.