Banking on Social Security - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Banking on Social Security

Sean Sugai Sean Sugai
Bruce Bottorff Bruce Bottorff
Charles Djou Charles Djou

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A day at the driving range equals stress relief for Sean Sugai. At 45 he's twenty years this side of collecting Social Security, but every day closes the gap and shrinks his confidence.

"The money is there currently but it's quickly running out," he said.

The consensus on Capitol Hill is Social Security needs reform.

On the grass roots level AARP is polling people on whether higher wage earners should have less income exempt from Social Security taxes, and whether the full retirement age should be raised.

"There's no getting around the fact that the boomer generation is now entering retirement and that there are more beneficiaries coming on line and fewer people paying into the system," AARP Hawaii Associate State Director Bruce Bottorff said.

The warning has been raised that if nothing is done the Social Security trust fund will begin shrinking in 2015 and eventually fall to the point where it will only pay out what it takes in.

"I do think we should be looking at changes that a lot of private companies have already instituted with their retirement plans for their workers, allowing some people the option to decide what they want to do in terms of how they want to structure retirement. I don't believe government has all the answers," former Hawaii Republican State Representative Charles Djou said.

Social Security experts agree whatever Washington does must be bi-partisan.

"Social Security needs to be strengthened," Bottorff said. "It needs to be maintained so that it's definitely a guaranteed retirement foundation for current and future generations."

AARP said without changes Social Security can pay 100 percent of benefits for the next 26 years.

Sugai and others his age and younger wonder and worry about what they'll draw down when they retire.

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