November 7, 2012

New Yorkers weigh in on Social Security, Medicare


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Tuesday’s election is behind every politician celebrating in the District of Columbia, and each will be challenged by Social Security and Medicare.

“The most important thing is that whoever is elected most likely will help determine the future of these programs for future generations,” said Kristin Legere, associate director of communications at AARP New York.

“It’s not just an issue for people who are retired but an issue of people working in their 30s, 40s, 50s and college students who will be going into the workforce. Changes made to these programs will impact future generations.”

AARP distributed three “You’ve Earned A Say” questionnaires, to which 3 million Americans responded at community events nationwide, including, AARP Bulletin and by phone. 

The full report, which includes the responses of New Yorkers statewide and in the 21st Congressional District, can be viewed online at

“Basically, we had more than 43,000 New Yorkers respond to the first questionnaire, more than 45,000 responded to the second, and more than 73,000 responded to the third. It’s not a scientific survey, but it indicates the opinions of more than 160,000 New Yorkers,” Legere said.

The survey started in March.

“Eighty-four percent of New Yorkers thought Social Security needed some changes, ... over one-third of New Yorkers felt the bigger challenge that faced the system is higher-paid workers are not paying enough into the program. One-third of the people felt people who are making more money are not paying enough in the system,” she said.

Eighty-five percent of respondents felt Medicare needed changes.

“Nearly 80 percent said they thought retirees in the future should get the same coverage as retirees in the program today.

“Over a third felt the rising cost of health care was one of the biggest challenges that faced Medicare today,” Legere said.

More than 1,900 New Yorkers responded in the new 21st Congressional District, which includes parts of or wholly the counties of Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Fulton, Jefferson, Hamilton, Essex, Herkimer, Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence and Lewis.

“Sixty-nine percent thought Medicare was in need of changes or is in a state of crisis. Seventy-three percent said Social Security needed changes or is in a state of crisis.

“Twenty-eight percent said they expected to get back less than what they have contributed. Thirty-four percent said they expected more funding will be needed to maintain benefits. Fourteen percent said they expected benefits to be reduced. Forty percent said they didn’t really know whether either one or the other would happen,” Legere said.

“You’ve Earned A Say” provided a forum for a cross-section of Americans to express themselves, she added.

“Fifty-one percent of the people who responded wanted to make their voices heard on this issue, but they didn’t think it would make a difference. We thought that was pretty startling. That really speaks to how people in this area feel.”

Last week, AARP volunteers and staff delivered “You’ve Earned A Say” reports to Congressional District members and candidates.

“People can still go and have their voices heard on the ‘Earned A Say’ website to let their elected officials know what they want to see have happen with these programs,” Legere said.

“These are programs people pay into. So AARP felt they earned a voice in their future, and these decisions should not be made exclusively behind closed doors in Washington, D.C.”

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ON THE WEB To learn more about the survey, visit