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AARP AARP States Arkansas

A Battle on the Gridiron and for Your Social Security

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By AARP State Director Ashley McBride

AARP Arkansas traveled to Memphis for the Southern Heritage Classic (SHC). Our team joined our sister State Office AARP Tennessee to cheer on the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions and the Tennessee State Tigers. The two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) battled it out on the gridiron, just like AARP is battling it out in the halls of Congress to protect your Social Security. This was also a unique opportunity for two State Directors who graduated from HBCUs, Spelman College and Tennessee State University, to share the message of AARP standing firm on protecting your Social Security.

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AARP knows that you have worked hard to pay into Social Security, so it is only fair for you to expect to get the money you have earned. This message is important and resonates deeply with our HBCU audience. As a 2001 Harvard Gazette article says, “The wealth gap between Black and White Americans has been persistent and extreme. According to scholars, it represents the accumulated effects of four centuries of institutional and systemic racism and bears major responsibility for disparities in income, health, education, and opportunity that continue to this day.” AARP believes that Social Security is your money – you've earned it through a lifetime of hard work. Spreading awareness about protecting Social Security is vital and was the catalyst for AARP Arkansas standing shoulder to shoulder with AARP Tennessee.

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In a 2003 study, AARP found that, “Social Security retirement benefits keep over 16 million Americans age 65-plus out of poverty each year, and 40% rely on Social Security for at least half of their income. The critical role that Social Security plays in improving the financial security of older adults is recognized by Americans of all ages, regardless of political ideology or gender.” The study goes on to say, “96% of Americans age 18-plus identify Social Security as an important government program, including 71% who say it is one of the most important government programs. Moreover, 72% say Social Security is even more important now than it was before economic shocks like COVID-19 and periods of high inflation.”

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This study, and the stories shared by our volunteers, family, and friends, is why Social Security must remain intact. It is essential to help cover living expenses and pay bills. Amid the fun of football, concerts, and tailgates, we educated Arkansans, and yes, even Tennesseans, with the hope that they will join us in acting now to compel politicians to protect and save Social Security. If we don’t, there is a chance that in the next 10 years Social Security could be cut by 20 percent.

With women living longer than male spouses, and Black women being more at risk economically than men, these cuts could be devastating to many people including those we encountered at the SHC. It is their faces we will see as we fight to keep benefits at 100%. It is also important that we reach our younger audience, as studies show that younger voters see the tremendous value in the Social Security program.

AARP's Social Security Resource Center has the answers to important questions, so when Americans are thinking about retirement, they know how to access what they have earned. Review all of AARP’s Social Security Resources including the AARP Social Security Calculator where you can decide when to claim and show you how to maximize your benefits and answers to some of the most frequent questions people have about Social Security.

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AARP Arkansas volunteers at the Southern Heritage Classic, September 9, 2023, Memphis, Tennessee.

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