Local seniors speak out on Social Security

Dennis Schnabel, a Mercer Island resident, attended AARP’s “You’ve Earned a Say” event on May 9. - Contributed Photo
Dennis Schnabel, a Mercer Island resident, attended AARP’s “You’ve Earned a Say” event on May 9.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Organizers barely had time to switch the microphones on before a packed room of local seniors lined up last week to voice their opinions in the debate over Social Security and Medicare.

A capacity crowd of more than 100 people gathered on May 9 at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center for AARP’s “You’ve Earned a Say” event.

The AARP association held the gathering as part of its nationwide effort to take the debate about Social Security and Medicare out from behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., and into local communities.

Mercer Island senior Dennis Schnabel attended the event and spoke up about how both programs have been important to him and his family.

“Social Security and Medicare are absolutely essential for our country and for the lives of countless seniors and their families,” said Schnabel.  Medicare helped pay for Schnabel’s kidney transplant in 2010, and since he’s unable to work now, he’s receiving Social Security disability payments.

But Schnabel was quick to point out that the urgency of the debate doesn’t stop with him — it’s one that spans all generations.

“Social Security is my father’s sole source of income, and it’s something that I sincerely hope my kids and grandkids can count on for their futures,” he said.

Schnabel isn’t alone in his sentiments about the importance of Social Security and Medicare.  AARP released a new statewide survey at the event showing nearly all registered, likely Washington voters (98 percent) believe Social Security is important to people’s financial security in retirement, and a similar number (97 percent) say the same about Medicare’s importance to people’s health in retirement.

The May 2012 survey, “Politics as Usual,” was of registered, likely Washington voters age 18 and over.  Surprisingly, the support held strong across all age groups, with just as much support among younger Washingtonians as older.  Ninety-seven-percent of Washington voters ages 18-49 said Social Security is important, while 99 percent of voters ages 50-64 and 99 percent of voters over age 65 also said it’s important. Support for Medicare was just as robust (ages 18-49, 98 percent; ages 50-64, 97 percent; and over age 65, 98 percent).

“Instead of talking about Medicare and Social Security as line items in the federal budget, Washington, D.C., should be talking about how to strengthen health and retirement security and ensuring Americans have a voice in the debate,” said AARP State Director Doug Shadel. “Our members and older Americans have paid into Medicare and Social Security throughout their working lives, and they have earned a say in the future of these programs.”


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