NPR Online



Part II: Knowledge of the Social Security System


10B. (Asked of half sample) Do you think most lower-income people when they retire get back from Social Security more than they paid into the program, less than they paid in, or about what they paid into the program?

11. Which of the following do you think best describes the surplus money in the Social Security trust fund?

12. Which of the following dollar amounts do you think is about the average annual benefit currently being paid to a retired worker by Social Security?

13. Let me read you some things people might say about the Social Security system, and for each one please tell me whether you think it is true or false.

a. Social Security benefits provide most of the retirement income for the majority of retirees.

b. The federal government has used the Social Security trust fund for other purposes.

15A. In the next century, will the Social Security retirement age for full benefits remain at 65, or has Congress changed the age at which people will be able to receive full Social Security benefits?

15B. (Answer ONLY if you think Congress has changed the retirement age) Did Congress raise or lower the retirement age for full benefits?

16. Which of the following descriptions comes closer to your view of what Social Security should look like in the future?

A. A program in which people receive money based on how much each individual has paid into the program and how much that payment has earned

B. A program to assure that elderly people have a minimum income during retirement, regardless of how much they paid in and what that payment has earned

C. Both

D. Don't know

17A. (Asked of half sample) Which of the following four statements comes closest to your own view of the Social Security program today?

18. Suppose Congress doesn't take any action--do you think the Social Security program is likely to go bankrupt?

19. Do you think the Social Security program will go bankrupt within the next 10 years, or will it go bankrupt further in the future?

20. A number of reasons have been suggested for why the Social Security program faces financial difficulties. For each of the following, please tell me if you think it is a major reason, a minor reason, or not a reason why the Social Security program faces financial difficulties.

a. More people are going on Social Security and there will be fewer workers to pay Social Security taxes to support them

b. People on Social Security are living longer so they cost the program more money.

c. Fraud and abuse by people who aren't entitled to benefits.

d. Money in the Social Security trust fund is being spent on programs other than Social Security.

e. Money in the Social Security trust fund is not being invested wisely.