NEVADA - Nevada United to Protect Social Security held a press call today, joined by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), to release a report showing that Nevada’s rural areas depend on Social Security income more than the non-rural communities. On the call, Senator Reid decried steep benefit cuts and the risky privatization scheme under President Bush’s Social Security proposal as dangerous for the people of Nevada.
"Social Security and its guaranteed benefits reflect the best of America’s values,” Senator Reid said. “That is why I can not support President Bush’s plan to privatize the program. I believe his plan would destroy Social Security, and this report shows it would be especially disastrous for rural Nevada."
According to the Institute for America’s Future, the President’s proposal would result in a lifetime benefit reduction of over $181,886 for the typical Nevada worker, even after average gains to a private account are considered. However, these mandatory benefit cuts would hurt Nevada’s rural communities more harshly than urban communities. For every county in Nevada, the Institute for America’s Future, one of Nevada United’s partner organizations, analyzed Social Security income and beneficiary data as well as other distinguishing characteristics from the Social Security Administration, Congressional Budget Office, Bureau of Economic Analysis and other sources. The study found that Nevada’s rural communities depend on income from Social Security more than the non-rural communities.
According to the National Association of Counties, there are 14 non-metropolitan or rural counties in Nevada (of 16 total counties). Total personal income in these counties was fully $6,760,031,000 in 2003 according the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The BEA reports that individuals with Social Security income in these counties cumulatively received $445,482,000 in Social Security benefits – or 6.6 percent of total personal income. Although non-rural communities rely on Social Security income, they do not nearly as much as rural areas. There are two non-rural counties in Nevada with a total personal income of $62,970,883,000 with individuals receiving $2,802,088,000 in Social Security benefits – or 4.4 percent of total personal income.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the President’s plan to privatize Social Security and cut benefits would have a negative impact on the quality of life in Nevada," said Senator Reid. "Addressing the long term challenges of Social Security will take tough choices and prioritizing our budget, but it can be done. I hope President Bush will take privatization off the table so we can work on ways that will actually protect and strengthen Social Security."
"It is important that Nevada’s representatives in Congress concern themselves with how changes to Social Security would affect all of their constituents," said Greg Leifer, State Director for Nevada United. "This report clearly shows that any reduction in benefits would have a disproportionate negative impact on Nevada’s rural communities. We call on Representatives Gibbons and Porter to stand up for rural communities in Nevada."
The report also reveals that rural Nevada has a higher percentage of seniors, higher percentage of women who receive Social Security, and more disabled people receiving Social Security benefits than non-rural areas.