Key findings of the poll showed:
- Americans don’t mind paying for Social Security because they value it for themselves (80%), for their families (78%), and for the security and stability it provides to millions of retired Americans, disabled individuals, and children and widowed spouses of deceased workers (84%).
- 84% believe current Social Security benefits do not provide enough income for retirees, and 75% believe we should consider raising future Social Security benefits in order to provide a more secure retirement for working Americans.
- 82% agree it is critical to preserve Social Security for future generations even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans, and 87% want to preserve Social Security for future generations even if it means increasing taxes paid by wealthier Americans.
The trade-off analysis conducted for the study shows that, rather than maintain the status quo, 71% of Americans would prefer a package of changes that increases Social Security revenues, pays for benefit improvements and eliminates more than 100% of the projected financing gap.
The preferred package would:
- Gradually, over 10 years, eliminate the cap on earnings that are taxed for Social Security. This would mean that the 5% of workers who earn more than the cap ($110,100 in 2012; $113,700 in 2013) would pay into Social Security throughout the year, as other workers do.
- Gradually, over 20 years, raise the Social Security tax rate that workers and employers each pay from 6.2% of earnings to 7.2%. A worker earning $50,000 a year would pay about 50 cents a week more each year.
- Raise Social Security’s basic minimum benefit so that someone who paid into Social Security for 30 years can retire at 62 or later and not be poor.
- Increase Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to more accurately reflect the level of inflation experienced by seniors.
The package is preferred over the status quo by large majorities of seniors in the so-called Silent Generation, born before 1946 (76%); Baby Boomers, born from 1946 to 1964 (71%); and younger Americans in Generation X, born from 1965 to 1979 (73%) and Generation Y, born in 1980 and after (67%).