As kids we spent many long hours in our neighborhood playing games of kick the can. One of the main goals in the game (if you were “it”) was to protect the can from other players, while also looking for hidden players and calling them out. Now, as mid-life adults, we are too preoccupied with life to think about the kick the can game or even the symbolic “can” for our generation: Social Security. As a society, continuing to “kick the can down the road,” means failing to find solutions to shore up the Social Security program.
Most of us grew up only knowing a world with Social Security, and many GenXers were too young to remember the reform efforts of the early 1980s. Thinking about Social Security has mostly flown below our radar at this stage in our lives, unless someone in our family has died or has a disability. We see Social Security deductions come out of our paychecks and hope the program will still be around to supplement our savings when it’s our time to retire.
The average annual Social Security payment in Oregon is $15,074, with 3 in 10 Oregonians over the age of 65 relying solely on Social Security for income.* As it stands now, according to AARP, by the time most of us reach retirement our monthly payments will be about 25% less than current retirees. Taking action to make the Social Security program financially sustainable will benefit current and future generations. What can we do now to address the issue? Our Generation X is next in line to be “it”, so we can’t hide forever.
Organize a multi-generational Kick the Can game in your community, or at a state fair, to bring attention to Social Security issues. Here are the rules of the game: www.projectplaybooks.com/the-rules-of-kick-the-can .
*Citations: From Social Security: 2014 Oregon Quick Facts handout form AARP citing OASDI www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/5j.html#table5.j3 and ACS through AARP research on 2011 percent of income from SS-SPSS calculation www.census.gov/acs .
Michele Scheib is an AARP Oregon Gen X volunteer. She lives in Eugene.