The premise and conclusion of Robert J. Samuelson’s Aug. 27 op-ed, “The elderly aren’t so poor after all,” were misleading and dangerous.
With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, we should look for ways to ensure their financial security during retirement, not pull the carpet out from under them. By Mr. Samuelson’s own account, 23 percent of retirees ages 65 to 80 say they don’t have enough money to live comfortably.
The evidence supports their concern. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, more than 100 million working-age individuals (59.3 percent) have no retirement savings such as a 401(k) or individual retirement account, nor do they have a defined-benefit pension. Moreover, the average Social Security retirement benefit is a modest $1,461.
Americans of all ages support Social Security. Among individuals 30 to 79, almost two-thirds think we spend too little on the program.
Rather than cutting benefits, we should expand Social Security by eliminating the cap on earnings subject to withholding. Doing so would extend the solvency of the trust fund and increase benefits to keep pace with the cost of living.
Pitting one age group against another will lead to a race to the bottom, the last thing our country needs right now.
Richard Fiesta, Washington
The writer is executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.