Personal Finance

Americans Strongly Agree on These 3 Changes to Social Security

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Americans appear to disagree on many things these days, but they find common ground on one subject: the need to fix the Social Security system.

Three-quarters of Americans in a recent study — 76% — said they either somewhat agree or strongly agree that the Social Security system needs to change, according to the Nationwide Retirement Institute’s 2021 Social Security Survey.

Meanwhile, just 17% said they somewhat disagree that there is a need for change, and a scanty 6% strongly disagree.

In particular, the Americans surveyed agree about three changes that can be made to help strengthen the Social Security system. Here are the percentages who said they somewhat agree or strongly agree with the following fixes:

  1. Ensuring Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are enough to, at minimum, keep up with inflation: 89%
  2. Reinstating Social Security payroll taxes on people earning more than $400,000 per year: 79%
  3. Providing a Social Security credit to unpaid caregivers: 74%

There is more moderate support for a host of other fixes, including:

  • Applying COLAs only to lower- or middle-income households’ Social Security benefits: 64%
  • Eliminating the earnings cap on Social Security payroll taxes (which is $142,800 for 2021): 63%
  • Privatizing a small portion of benefits: 58%
  • Means testing: 58%
  • Eliminating early retirement age with reduced benefits: 49%
  • Raising the full retirement age: 46%
  • Linking full retirement age to life expectancy: 46%
  • Raising payroll taxes: 46%

There was low support for one other idea — cutting benefits for everyone currently receiving Social Security. Not surprisingly, just 21% of survey respondents supported it.

The Harris Poll conducted the Nationwide Retirement Institute’s survey of more than 1,900 U.S. adults age 25 and older between April 19 and May 7, 2021.

Avoiding key Social Security mistakes

Social Security is the foundation of retirement income for millions of Americans. Making the wrong decisions regarding the government program can tarnish your golden years, leaving you with less money to spend.

For example, claiming Social Security early can be costly. As we have reported:

“Claiming early can be risky because once you claim benefits, you will be stuck with the same size payment for life. The amount of a person’s monthly benefit typically will never increase except for inflation adjustments.”

For more on avoiding such mistakes, check out “7 Social Security Blunders That Can Ruin Your Retirement.”

You can also find help with Social Security decisions through Money Talks News’ Solutions Center. To learn how you can get a discount on a personalized analysis of your claiming options, see “A Simple Way to Maximize Your Social Security.”

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