There’s a reason that Social Security is called “the third rail of American politics” – as in, touch it and die. Most Americans – especially seniors – are fiercely protective when it comes to their retirement benefits.
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That sentiment is reflected in a Quinnipiac University national poll of adults that found 78% of respondents are opposed to proposals that could raise the full retirement age for Social Security benefits. Opposition remained firm even when respondents were asked whether they would support raising the full retirement age if it meant benefits would last longer, with 30% in favor and 62% against the move.
The State of Social Security
While the system isn’t in any danger of becoming bankrupt, the trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare have reported that the surplus in the trust fund that’s used to pay out a portion of benefits will run out sometime in 2034. Once the surplus is gone the payroll taxes that support Social Security would continue to bring in revenue for benefit payments, but those collections would come up about 20% short of the total amount needed. At that point, Congress would have to find other revenue or adjust the benefit rules and payroll tax schedules.
Even before those estimates were released, a group of senators began looking at ways to shore up Social Security. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) have been working on a controversial proposal to increase the full retirement age for benefits.
Poll Reveals Deep Anxiety
The amount of anxiety surrounding financial security in retirement was reflected throughout the Quinnipiac poll.
For instance, the top personal financial concern for respondents between ages 50 to 64 was saving for retirement, with 25% saying it was their biggest worry. That also was the top concern for respondents 65 and older, with 26% saying they were anxious about saving enough for retirement.
“When it comes to the golden years, Americans young, old and in-between share the same worry,” said Osman Kilic, a Quinnipiac professor of finance and business. “There’s a cloud of doubt hanging over the quality of life they’ll have when they retire, especially among those between 35 and 64 years of age.”
The poll surveyed nearly 1,800 adults from across the political spectrum. While 29% of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 27% were Republicans. Another 29% said they were independents while the remaining 15% of participants said they belong to another political party or simply don’t know.
Among all respondents, 22% reported that inflation, higher interest rates and other elements of the current economy have prompted them to reconsider when they’ll be able to retire. Among respondents between 50 and 64 years old, 32% said they’ve already delayed their retirement plan.
More broadly, 52% of the respondents said they’d find it either very difficult (25%) or somewhat difficult (27%) to come up with $1,000 in cash to handle an unexpected expense, while 42% reported having less in savings than they did a year ago.
When it came to the question of being able to afford to retire, nearly seven in 10 (68%) said they are either very concerned (33%) or somewhat concerned (35%) that they will not have enough money to live comfortably during retirement.
The majority of Americans are strongly opposed to raising the full retirement age for Social Security, a move that’s been suggested by senators on Capitol Hill. A Quinnipiac University poll found that 78% are against hiking the full retirement, while nearly seven out of 10 people are concerned about simply having enough saved for retirement.
Retirement Planning Tips
- If you’re still working, consider increasing the amount of money you contribute to your workplace retirement plan. Incremental increases can really pay off over the course of many years. If you don’t have access to a 401(k) or another employee-sponsored plan, be sure you’re saving in an IRA. SmartAsset’s retirement calculator can help you estimate how much money you’ll need in retirement and how much you’re currently projected to have.
- A financial advisor can help you save and plan for retirement. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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