Do you think the Social Security system is heading for a crisis down the road? If you say yes, then you have lots of company. Eighty-one percent of Americans think so, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken early this year. That’s up ten percentage points from a similar poll taken in 2005.
Among those who feel we’re in or headed for a crisis, two-thirds say the fix will require major changes. Only one-third says we need only minor fixes. There are many proposals to fix this program. Here are five options. Which would you support? Oppose?
1.) Reduce guaranteed benefits for future retirees.
2.) Increase the Social Security tax rate.
3.) Raise the retirement age to receive full Social Security benefits to 68, instead of the current 67.
4.) Further reduce benefits paid to people who retire early. For instance, people who retire at age 62 would get 63% of their full benefits, rather than the current 70%.
5.) Collect Social Security taxes on all the money a worker earns, rather than taxing only up to about $107,000 of annual income.
These five are survey questions asked by the pollsters. I’ve arranged them in order of increasing support, according to poll results. Cutting benefits for future retirees is the least popular. Only about a third (32%) supports it. Increasing the Social Security tax rate is also very unpopular (only 35% support this option).
More people are willing to raise the retirement age by one year, or cut benefits paid to people who retire early. Even so, it’s less than a majority for either option (42% and 46%, respectively). The only option that receives majority support is the last option: Just over half (53%) of Americans think the government should collect Social Security taxes on all the money a worker earns.
What I find interesting—and hopeful—is that the option feared by many, especially younger workers, is the least popular. Most Americans don’t want to cut benefits for future retirees. And, the most popular option is to tax Americans who earn good incomes and, presumably, can afford to pay.
Do you agree that we are facing a crisis?
Which option do you prefer the most? The least?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.