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Poll: Don't mess with Social Security

WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- Four in five Americans oppose raising Social Security's retirement age, with two-thirds strongly opposing such a proposal, a national survey indicated Thursday.

The survey by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation also found 70 percent of Americans expect to need Social Security when they retire -- and they want to make sure the money they put in will be there when they need it.

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Fully 96 percent say Social Security money belongs to the people who contributed and to their beneficiaries, and "not to the government."

Seventy-one percent say the program is "a promise made to all generations and should not be broken," the survey indicated.

Their sentiments were released a week after the Congressional Budget Office said Social Security, in its current form, wouldn't be able to pay out full benefits starting in 2039 and the International Monetary Fund recommended the United States cut future Social Security benefits to get back on a more stable fiscal path.

Social Security accounts for roughly a fifth of the federal budget.

Ninety-eight percent believe Social Security it not a major cause of the U.S. budget deficit and 77 percent oppose changing Social Security to solve the deficit problem.

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A bipartisan commission appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama is examining the debt problem, including Social Security, and is scheduled by Dec. 1 to recommend how to trim the nation's debt.

At the same time Thursday, Congress began preparing to rewrite Social Security to shore up its creaky finances.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying getting 10 percent of Americans to keep working, even part time, past age 62 would reduce Social Security's long-term problems by 5 percent -- because the workers would not draw early benefits.

More than 53 million Americans receive the program's benefits.

The telephone survey, conducted for the committee by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, canvassed 764 U.S. adults June 24-30. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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