Americans Say Social Security Solvency Should Be Next President’s Top Economic Priority

Majority in all age groups see Social Security as most important
issue, according to new AICPA Survey of U.S. Adults

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Helping to insure that the Social Security system will not run out of
money should be the top economic issue addressed by the next U.S.
President, according to a new telephone survey of 1,005 U.S. adults
conducted in March by Harris Poll on behalf of the American
Institute of CPAs
(AICPA) for Financial Capability Month. Almost
two-in-three (64 percent) U.S. adults cited social security as the top
issue, underscoring the importance of the program to Americans in
retirement.

The largest majority of U.S. adults in each age group picked Social
Security as one of the most important economic issues for the next
President to address, with the percentages increasing as they aged.
Three-in-four aged 65 and over (74 percent) picked it as the most
important issue followed by 71 percent in the 55 to 64 age group, 66
percent in both the 45 to 54 and 35 to 44 age groups, and 53 percent in
the 18 to 34 age group.

Social Security was followed by reducing the federal deficit (44
percent), decreasing unemployment (38 percent), reducing taxes (36
percent), and decreasing the international trade deficit (25 percent) as
top economic issues the next president should address. While one-in-five
(22 percent) cited keeping interest rates low, there was a small group
(4 percent) who thought the next President should increase interest
rates.

A recent National Council on Aging study found that 22 percent of
married Social Security recipients and 47 percent of single Social
Security recipients depend on Social Security for 90 percent of their
income. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the poverty rate among men
and women over 65 would be about 50 percent without Social Security.
With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, these statistics underscore the
importance of Social Security to current retirees and those about to
retire.

“Our survey clearly demonstrates that people feel strongly about the
solvency of Social Security and the potential impact on their own
retirement security,” said Gregory Anton, CPA, CGMA, chair of the
AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “The earlier people
start saving for retirement, and the more they contribute to their
retirement accounts, the better financial shape they will be in. That
way Social Security can supplement their retirement savings rather than
serve as the sole component.”

The AICPA survey found that 44 percent of U.S. adults felt that their
current economic well-being would be about the same as a result of the
upcoming Presidential election. One-in-five (21 percent) felt that their
economic well-being would be better and approximately the same
proportion (19 percent) felt that their economic well-being would be
worse after the election. Fifteen percent were not sure how the election
would impact their economic well-being.

“While the outcome of elections have the potential to impact American’s
economic situation –people need to understand that they themselves have
the ability to make positive changes in their financial behavior,” added
Anton. “The tools and resources on the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial
Literacy website empower people to understand their finances and take
steps to improve their saving and spending habits to better position
themselves for a comfortable retirement.”

Among the tools and resources on the AICPA’s 360
Degrees of Financial Literacy
website are Social Security
calculators to
help determine what their benefits may be in retirement
, and
determine the impact of losing
benefits upon their retirement income
.

The AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission offers the
following tips to help Americans save for a more comfortable retirement.

  • You can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early
    as age 62. However, your benefit may be 25 to 35 percent higher if you
    wait until full retirement age of 66 or 67, depending on the year you
    were born.
  • Social Security should be considered a component of your retirement
    plan, which can also include employer-sponsored retirement plans, a
    personal Roth IRA, and real estate holdings.
  • Retirement doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing affair. If you are not
    ready financially for full retirement, consider downshifting from
    full-time to part-time employment. This allows you to retain a source
    of income and remain active.

In addition to serving as Chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial
Literacy Commission, Greg Anton is also is founder of the AICPA’s
“What’s at Stake” initiative. What’s at Stake offers guidance on how the
U.S. government’s financial statements can be used for greater
understanding of the nation’s fiscal health.

For more information on the AICPA survey or to speak to a member of the
AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, contact Marc Eiger
at 212-596-6042, meiger@aicpa.org
or James Schiavone at 212-596-6119, jschiavone@aicpa.org.

About AICPA Financial Literacy Initiatives

360 Degrees of Financial literacy (www.360finlit.org)
is a national volunteer effort of the nation’s Certified Public
Accountants to help Americans understand their personal finances and
develop money management skills. The AICPA and Ad Council have developed
the Feed the Pig program (Feed
the Pig
), a national and localized PSA campaign designed to improve
financial literacy among Americans aged 25–34 by encouraging them to
make savings a part of their daily lives.

About the AICPA

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member
association representing the accounting profession, with more than
412,000 members in 144 countries, and a history of serving the public
interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice,
including business and industry, public practice, government, education
and consulting.

The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing
standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state
and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA
Examination, and offers specialty credentials for CPAs who concentrate
on personal financial planning; forensic accounting; business valuation;
and information management and technology assurance. Through a joint
venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA),
it has established the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
designation which sets a new standard for global recognition of
management accounting.

The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and
Ewing, NJ.

Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Press Center at aicpa.org/press.

Contacts

American Institute of CPAs
Marc Eiger, 212-596-6042
meiger@aicpa.org
or
James
Schiavone, 212-596-6119

jschiavone@aicpa.org