Some Region Seniors are Fearful of the President's Social Security Plan

January 5, 2005 -- Posted 5:00 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- The U.S. Congress is back in session, and President Bush is already touting a plan for the biggest overhaul of social security since it was started back in 1935. Some Region 8 seniors are concerned about it.

"When we get old we want it to be there," said Hilda Goff.

"My social security check is my life," added retired minister Winford Henry.

Henry is not alone. Approximately 81,000 people in Region 8 are social security recipients, and some of those haven't even reached retirement age.

"We have people that receive disability, and we have people that receive survivor's benefits," said Debbie Foster with the Jonesboro Social Security Office.

Now President Bush argues social security is headed towards bankruptcy in about 40 years. The President is calling for an overhaul of the system; a tough sell for some.

"I'm 100% against his idea of the way he wants to do social security," said Henry.

The good news for seniors: nothing will change under the President's plan for those who are retired or nearing retirement. Bush's plan also calls for not increasing social security payroll taxes, and allowing all workers to put a portion of their social security payroll taxes in private accounts.

"I would like for it to be left alone just like it is," said 80 year old Leda Southard.

Allyson Lewis is a financial advisor in Jonesboro who sees an upside to privatization.

"It's totally voluntary," said Lewis. "The government is going to give you options that are considered conservative by our standards and you'll have to work within very stringent guidelines of investing, so they want to take out as much of the risk out as they can and have people still participate in the growth of the stock market."

In response to the President's plan, Congressman Marion Berry released a statement on Wednesday saying, "I will not support any changes to social security -- including privatization schemes -- that require us to borrow any additional funds."