By Shruti Bhatt
The UMD Democrats and UMD Republicans sponsored a visit from Free the Facts to inform students about the impacts of Social Security.
Free the Facts is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that educates Americans, specifically those between ages 18 to 35, about fiscal policies and how they can make a difference to those policies.
Founded by Laban Jackson in 2016, Free the Facts’ focus this year is Social Security. Social Security is an entitlement program that helps retired workers by sending them a check every month until they die. There is a 6.2 percent Social Security tax on monthly paychecks of members of the workforce, including newly graduated students.
Lindsay Hayes, president and CEO of Free the Facts, and Tom Church, an entitlement reform policy expert, gave a brief overview on how Social Security started, how it currently works and how it will affect young workers in the future.
Hayes and Church said students will receive the least amount of benefits from Social Security, so it is important for them to be a part of a policy-change discussion.
“There are 28 million retired Americans right now but the number of people working and the number of people retiring is not increasing at the same rate,” Church said. This means that the amount of money going into Social Security does not equate to the amount of money going out to beneficiaries.
Hayes said Free the Facts wants more involvement from young people so that they get a chance to voice their opinions to real policymakers in Washington, D.C. She said the organization gives students a chance to compete at pitching their ideas on changing Social Security to a member of Congress and policy experts. This will provide students with the opportunity to take a stand about how their lives will be affected by policies made by Congress, she said.
“Not doing anything is a policy choice,” said Hayes.
Aerospace engineering major Haley Patel said learning about the implications of Social Security changed her initial thoughts about it.
“I thought Social Security is something I should worry about after I get out of college and work for 10 years or so,” she said. “But now I know that I should be more aware of where my money will go after I enter the workforce.”
The organization’s website has an online calculator where students can adjust the numbers pertaining to age, cost of living, benefits and taxes. Hayes and Church said this gives students a hands-on approach to understand the difficulties behind solving the issue.
“I’m happy I attended this meeting,” said general biology major Kreena Patel. “Starting to care about our money now will help us know how to save it and use it in the future.”