March 07, 2016

Gallup Poll: Confidence in Social Security is on the Rise

Polls are showing an increased optimism that Social Security is in solid financial shape and the public is increasingly saying that they will need to rely on the program during retirement. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 36% of non-retirees said that they expect Social Security to be a major source of their income – up from 31% just a year earlier. Among retirees, 59% surveyed said that they expect Social Security to be a major source of their income, up from 55% a year earlier.

Gallup also found that 40 percent of respondents were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the Social Security and Medicare programs, up from 37% a year earlier. 49% of non-retirees think that Social Security will be able to pay their full benefits when they retire, up from 37% in 2010.

Public opinion that Social Security will be a major source of retirement funds has stayed around the one third mark fairly consistently. However, the actual reported number of retirees who use Social Security as a major source of income is closer to two-thirds. With so many future retirees underestimating their reliance on Social Security, it is more important than ever to ensure future policy makers protect it.

The numbers all show the same thing: that the public has more positive feelings about Social Security’s future and increased confidence that it will be a bedrock for them when they need it. The Alliance’s efforts to educate the public about these earned benefits programs are working.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll referenced in last week’s Friday Alert showed that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all agreed that protecting Social Security benefits should be a top priority for the next president in the coming years. The poll also found that 85% of Americans believe Social Security’s future is extremely or very important for the next president.

Democratic candidates for president Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have promised to protect Social Security. Meanwhile, the Republican candidates have expressed many different types of changes that would leave seniors with reduced benefits. Frontrunner Donald Trump has put forth various proposals over the years. He once advocated increasing the retirement age to 70, but now claims he will fund Social Security by eliminating foreign aid, a move that would not even make a dent in the funds needed to keep the program in the long term.

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