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WV Press Convention: AARP provides update on Social Security; payments keeping 45% of older West Virginians out of poverty

WV Press Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  “Social security … is one of the most – if not the most – important programs in the country. It’s the foundation of income-security for tens-of-millions. In West Virginia, one-in-four receive social security, so that’s about 300,000 retirees.”

David Certner

That opinion and data came from David Certner, AARP legislative counsel and director of Legislative Policy for Government Affairs, who provided an update regarding social security legislation at the WV Press Association’s annual convention, held recently in Charleston.

AARP WV, a corporate partner with WV Press, hosted Certner’s zoom presentation for the media.

Certner explained that more than 175,000 additional West Virginians, including disabled and those receiving survivor benefits, also collect social security, noting, “It’s a huge number of people who rely on social security.”

“For the 65-plus in West Virginia, it keeps 45% of them out of poverty,” Certner added. 

AARP offers members a Social Security Response Center to assist people with questions about the program. Click the image to visit the site.

According to Certner, the federal social security program has sufficient finance to continually pay-out benefits at the current level until 2034. At that time, based on current figures, social security benefits would experience a “20% shortfall.”

Essentially, if we did nothing, starting in 2034, there would be about a 20% reduction in benefits for the rest of the century,” Certner said. “Congress does need to take steps to close that gap and prevent that 20% cut. Unfortunately there really isn’t a lot of movement right now on any kind of legislative response.”

Certner noted that the last “major movement” on social security was the package approved by Congress in 1983, when the program was a mere six months away from insolvency. 

The 2023 WV Press Association convention was made possible through the sponsorship of the W.Va. School of Osteopathic Medicine, GameChanger, AARP of West Virginia, WVU University Relations, the WVPA Foundation, New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, W.Va. Hive, Highmark, BHE Renewables, City National Bank, W.Va. Department of Tourism, CAMC/Vandalia Health, ONE – Our Next Energy, WV Nursery and Landscaping Association, Asher Agency, the Associated Press, and Affiliated Construction Trades of West Virginia. 

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