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Map of the Week: Social Security benefits across Minnesota
About 17% of Minnesota households receive some form of Social Security. While the state average an 18% national average, there are large fluctuations throughout the state. The larger Twin Cities metro area, for example, is a concentrated area with the lowest percentage of Social Security assistance, while higher percentage counties are strewn about the state. Unsurprisingly, these numbers correlate with the age map from a previous week. While Social Security is provided for those with disabilities, a majority of the beneficiaries—around 70%—are the elderly, accounting for the substantial correlation with age.
Social Security, as we know it, could be in trouble. Unless Congress acts quickly, funding for Social Security is projected to run out by 2037. With increasing inflation, Social Security benefits are adjusted each year for cost-of-living. There have only been two years, both very recently, when there was not a raise – 2010 and 2011. Also with demographics changing the amount of workers per Social Security beneficiary will fall from 2.8 to 2.1 workers by 2033, according to the Social Security Administration. Congress is scrambling for a solution, suggesting the retirement age for full benefits be raised from 67 to 69.
While legislators are debating how to fix the shortfalls of Social Security and how to reduce our nations debt, it is important to remember the benefits that Social Security provides. 45% of Minnesota's 65+ would be living below the poverty line if it weren't for these added benefits. Additionally, about 95% of Minnesota's elderly population receives Social Security. Minnesota's elderly population is growing and is expected to jump from 12% in 2006 to 19% in 2030. While allowing the parole tax breaks to expire was unpopular, it was prudently fiscally to ensure Social Security's long-term solvency. And instead of putting more pressure on working people by raising the retirement age two years, maybe it's time we talk about raising the withholding significantly above the current salary cap of $110,000.
These numbers may seem rather scary. However, they are meant to inform, and demonstrate how important it is our leaders figure out a solution.