Latino Leaders Coalition Unveils Plan to Protect Social Security

A coalition of Latino organizations launched a campaign Wednesday to push for the protection of Social Security, which leaders say is the sole source of income for half of all Hispanic senior citizens.

The coalition, named Latinos for a Secure Retirement, unveiled policy recommendations that the group says aim “to ensure the sustainability and solvency of Social Security for the next 75 years and beyond without any cuts to benefits or increase in the retirement age.”

Among the recommendations are raising the tax cap gradually over 10 years to cover 90 percent of earnings, covering all local and state government employees, treating all salary reduction plans like 401K retirement savings, having a special minimum benefit for low-wage workers who have worked long years, and increasing legal immigration, which the coalition says would increase the number of workers per retiree.

Coalition members say they seek to work with members of the Congress and the Obama Administration in hopes of getting some of the recommendations adopted.

“Social Security is about economic security and the dignity with which our elderly will live in their sunset years,” said Hector E. Sanchez, executive director of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, of LCLAA, a member of the coalition. “Any plans to privatize, reduce benefits, and lift the retirement age will jeopardize the economic security of a community that earns less on average than the rest of working-age people."

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A statement put out by the coalition said it was created “in response to recent attacks from Social Security adversaries who have falsely attributed the nation’s rising deficit problems with the program."

“In the Latino community, Social Security benefits represent nearly all the income for almost half of Latino seniors," it said. "While keeping millions of seniors out of poverty every year, the average Social Security benefit for Latino seniors is only $12,213 for men, and only $9,536 for Latinas.”

Some of the groups in the coalition are the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, the Hispanic Federation, the National Hispanic Council on Aging, the Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, and the American GI Forum.

“Instead of cutting benefits or increasing the retirement age,” the statement said, “ the common-sense approach presented in the plan will raise additional revenue to make Social Security fully solvent, increase the independence and fairness of Social Security, and strengthen benefits for those most in need. “

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