Americans Take a Dim View of Raiding Their Social Security to Cover Pandemic Expenses

May 29, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Americans could use a financial boost. How to get that money into people’s hands has been a hot topic of debate. Democrats have proposed expanding unemployment insurance and giving Americans as much as $2,000 per month to get back on their feet. Meanwhile, one Republican proposal has called for giving Americans $11,000 now in exchange for every year they agree to delay their Social Security benefits and Medicare coverage. Now, a poll conducted by Data For Progress and Social Security Works, an advocacy organization, asked Americans which of those two options they would pick. They also asked if people think the government has already done enough.

Most respondents, 55%, said they want expanded unemployment insurance along with $2,000 per month in income. Meanwhile, 25% said they think the government has already done enough. Just 20% said they would pick $11,000 in income for every year they delay Social Security and Medicare.

Those most likely to support receiving $11,000 for every year they agree to delay government benefits were under age 45. That cohort is more likely to feel that they are not going to get Social Security anyway, according to Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works.

Advocates for protecting Social Security, including Social Security Works, have spoken out against letting Americans borrow against future benefits. “It’s this idea that Social Security is a piggy bank and it’s not insurance and that you can get some cash now and all you have to do is trade away your future security,” said Altman.

Similar concerns have been expressed by other politicians, including Reps. John Larson, D-Conn., and Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who recently co-wrote a letter to the State Department on the matter. “In this moment of crisis, when millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet and fear for their retirement, we should be enhancing Social Security, not developing policies to reduce benefits,” Larson and Castro wrote.

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