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Reimagine Everything: Social Security Still Popular as It Reaches Its 85th Anniversary

By September 11, 2020September 22nd, 2020No Comments

Ron Mori

The Social Security Act celebrated its 85th anniversary on Aug. 14. The legislation provides retirement benefits to millions of American workers. To this day, Social Security still enjoys strong support from Americans across generations and political parties.

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, AARP commissioned a national survey to solicit adults’ views on Social Security. Support for Social Security has remained consistent over time. The vast majority of Americans — 93 percent of Republicans, 99 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Independents — view Social Security as an important government program, and 56 percent believe it is even more important for retirees in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s crystal clear that Americans of all generations value the economic stability Social Security has offered for the last 85 years—even more so as we face the health and economic challenges of a global pandemic,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vp and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “With so many Americans struggling to afford health care and other basic needs, Social Security is more important than ever — and AARP will never stop fighting to strengthen Social Security and make sure hard-working Americans get the benefits they’ve earned.”

AARP’s survey also found that Social Security is a key source of income and economic stability in retirement, but the survey respondents voiced concerns about whether it will be enough.

  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) are worried that Social Security will not provide enough to live on during their retirement.
  • Two-thirds of Americans believe the average monthly Social Security retirement benefit of $1,503 per month is too low.
  • Nearly 3 in 5 Americans are not confident in the future of Social Security, with confidence in the program lowest among 30- to 49-year-olds at only 28 percent.
  • Nearly 2 in 5 Americans (39 percent) say they do or will rely on Social Security for a substantial portion of their retirement income, and 4 out of 5 expect it to be part of their retirement income.

Social Security is a key component of AARP’s “Protect Voters 50+” campaign, which launched Aug. 3. The initiative provides information about where candidates stand on issues that matter to Americans 50-plus, including Social Security, and how to cast individual votes safely from home or in-person this November.

Other key findings:

  • A strong majority (96 percent) of Americans say that Social Security is an important program.
  • Americans recognize that Social Security plays an especially important role during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half (56 percent) indicated that Social Security is more important during the pandemic that it was before the pandemic started.
  • Few agree that the program is driving up the deficit, and the vast majority is reluctant to reduce benefits for solvency.
  • A majority of Americans (82 percent) say they will rely on Social Security at least somewhat for their retirement income.


AARP commissioned a national survey of 1,441 adults ages 18 and older to understand their attitudes and opinions on Social Security. The interview was conducted July 14-27, 2020, online and by telephone. The data is weighted by age, gender, census division, race/ethnicity and educational attainment, obtained from the February 2020 Current Population Survey.

To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.