RIVERSIDE COUNTY LATINOS UNITE AGAINST PROSPECT OF CUTS TO SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM
November 01 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Luz Gallegos, TODEC (951) 443-8458
Kathy Mimberg, NCLR (202) 776-1714
"Latinos and Social Security ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta!” town hall forum was held in Perris
Perris, Calif.—A town hall forum held in Perris today brought together Latino seniors and community leaders who are concerned that the U.S. Congress may reduce the modest Social Security benefits that they rely on for most of their income and health care. Seniors who attended the forum hosted by the Training Occupational Development Educating Communities Legal Center (TODEC Legal Center), NCLR (National Council of La Raza), AARP, and the Latinos for a Secure Retirement (LSR) coalition voiced their opposition to potential cuts and told representatives of these groups about how reduced benefits could affect them and their families.
As the nation anticipates the recommendations of a congressional super committee charged with negotiating a long-term solution for the federal budget, there is growing concern about the potential effects of cuts made to programs like Social Security that help keep millions of people out of poverty. The forum, which is part of the “Latinos and Social Security ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta!” campaign, featured Perris Mayor Daryl Busch and experts on the Social Security program that provides some financial security to low-income seniors and others.
“Social Security has always paid its own way and is expected to do so in the decades ahead. Its promise, which is so critical to millions of retirees, low income workers and their families, should not be threatened by those that want to use it as a piggy bank for the current national deficit,” said Robert Prath, Volunteer Manager of State Operations, Member of the California State Executive Council and National Policy Council of AARP.
In Riverside County, Social Security contributes $4 billion annually to the local economy by paying benefits to 306,080 county residents, including 205,820 retirees, 38,640 disabled workers, and 23,655 children. Social Security serves five million residents in California and prevents 1.1 million from living in poverty.
Latino seniors are particularly vulnerable to cuts and changes because Social Security benefits represent nearly all of their income. While Social Security’s progressive benefit formula favors low-wage workers, Hispanic seniors receive the lowest average benefits due to lower lifetime earnings. Average yearly benefits for Hispanic seniors are only $12,213 for men and just $9,536 for women. More than half of Latino seniors rely on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.
“Many people we serve in our community rely on Social Security for all of their income and they are barely surviving. TODEC Legal Center is committed to ensuring that our community is well-informed and engaged in the debate about changes to Social Security that could hurt those who are most vulnerable,” said Luz Maria Ayala, Executive Director of the TODEC Legal Center.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is severely underfunded, which has led to unacceptable delays in benefit claims for disabled Hispanics. This year, SSA closed several field offices, furloughed thousands of workers, and suspended the annual participant benefit statement. This is despite the fact that the program has not contributed one dime to the federal deficit and will remain financially solvent without any changes until 2037.
“Social Security has been vital for our nation’s seniors, disabled workers, and family members for 76 years. We must take steps to ensure that this program is there and made stronger for future generations of workers who will be more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity,” said Leticia Miranda, Associate Director of NCLR’s Employment and Economic Policy Project.
The speakers also noted that older Hispanics are more likely than other seniors to access Medicare with the support of Medicaid, and may experience the worst of the repercussions from proposals to reduce the federal deficit by cutting these programs and Social Security benefits.
The Perris forum is the fifth in a series being held across the country as part of the “Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta!” campaign. The previous forum was held in Los Angeles on October 19 and featured a new report by the Commission to Modernize Social Security, Plan for a New Future: The Impact of Social Security Reform on People of Color, which includes measures to close Social Security’s 75-year actuarial deficit and improve benefits for those who need them most.
For more information about the TODEC Legal Center, visit www.todec.org.
For more information about AARP, visit www.aarp.org.
For more information about NCLR, visit www.nclr.org or www.nclr.org/socialsecurity.
For more information about LSR, visit www.latinosforasecureretirement.org.
Issues: Retirement Security, Seguro Social, Social Security
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas