Disability, Retirement, Survivors

Protecting the Legacy of Social Security for Future Generations

September 3, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: September 3, 2015

A diverse group joining hands as a team.Social Security reached a major milestone on August 14 — its 80th birthday. This moment gave all of us the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the great history and importance of the program to workers and their families. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935, creating a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, and protecting them from what he eloquently called the “hazards and vicissitudes of life.” Eighty years later, Social Security remains an essential part of the fabric of American life — providing income security for nearly 60 million people across the country today, including seniors, survivors, people with disabilities, and their families.

But, if we don’t take meaningful steps to strengthen the program for future retirees, the Social Security trust funds will run out of money before the program even reaches its 100th birthday. In fact, the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI) currently doesn’t have enough money to pay full benefits even for the next two years, which is why the Social Security trustees have warned that it “faces an urgent threat of reserve depletion, requiring prompt corrective action by lawmakers if sudden reductions or interruptions in benefit payments are to be avoided.”

Although the retirement program is in somewhat better shape in the near-term, the aging of the population and retirement of the baby boom population is leading to persistent deficits in that program — about $75 billion of deficits in this year alone. Without action, the combined trust funds will likely run out of funds in the early 2030s, leading to an immediate 20 to 30 percent across-the-board cut for all beneficiaries regardless of age or income. We can’t afford to let that happen, which is why lawmakers should work together to reach a bipartisan solution to fix the program’s long-term finances.

Luckily, there are many ways to strengthen Social Security for future beneficiaries. For example, lawmakers could slow the growth of initial benefits for higher earners, adjust the retirement age for growing life expectancy, adopt a more accurate measure of inflation for cost-of-living adjustments, raise the payroll tax rate, or increase the amount of income subject to the payroll tax.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has created an interactive tool, The Reformer, which allows anyone to design a plan that keeps Social Security sustainable for future generations.

Unfortunately, the longer we wait to act, the fewer choices there will be — and the more pain they’ll cause. If we want Social Security to prosper for another 80 years, the time to act is now.

Note: In honor of Labor Day, we have invited Maya MacGuineas and Nancy Altman as  guest bloggers on Social Security Matters.  We thank them for taking the time to share their narratives with our followers and allowing us to showcase the diversity of individuals in support of Social Security on this important holiday. Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

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About the Author

Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget


  1. Gregg B.

    I have to laugh at those that think Social Security should be eliminated and that conscious people can do their own savings for retirement. That’s easy to say, but the fact is people will not save enough or not at all. President Roosevelt implemented a tremendous program back in the 30’s by this SS program. It forced people to save. I can personally say that when I was young I didn’t think of growing old and wondering where money would be coming from. Thank God, I have Social Security now, because with only my small retirement pension and some typical savings, I would be in the bread line. To me SS is a very easy program to fix if our leaders in Washington would just get in a room, work together, and create a viable plan for the future. It just needs a little tweaking, like getting rid of the cap would be the biggest benefit. Why should those making over 118.5K stop contributing? That’s where the majority of contributions dollars are lost. Also, our politician should have some “skin in the game”, thus they too should contribute. What incentives do they have to protect this wonderful program. Come on Washington, lets get with it and tweak this system to ensure that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy old age without being strapped. If Washington cannot tweak Social Security it is not much wonder why major problems are not addressed and resolved. Thank you for listening.

    • mevadoodle

      Gregg, something that might interest you is just how much a low income person could save in 45 years. Let’s assume a 20 year old started saving just $10.00 per week (forgo 2 packs of cigarettes) in an investment account (accounts are available for individuals with only modest means to invest small amounts without penalty) and let’s also assume the money invested would earn an average of only 3%. At the ripe old age of 65, that individual would have accumulated $1,343,800.95 through contributions and compounding returns at 3%. The key to success is getting started early. It takes very little money, if you start saving early in life, to accumulate a substantial savings for future needs. Social security and disability is certainly a safety net but Social Security was never meant to provide a total retirement income and disability will never replace a well paying job- -but both help. It is still each individuals responsibility to plan and save for their own golden years.

      One major obstacle to individual financial success and independence is a lack of knowledge in the general population. Think back to when you attended school. Someone may have taught you a skill that would allow you to make a living wage but do you recall anyone ever explaining the magic of compounding rates of return on invested money. Did anyone ever encourage you to save and tell you how to get started? I doubt you received those instructions and neither did I. Unfortunately, opportunities are available that most never learn until they are out of time to make a difference. However, thanks to the internet, all the information anyone needs to get on the road to financial independence is readily available to them and in great detail.

      So, if you’re physically or mentally incapable of working, you deserve help from your fellow citizens. If you’re capable of working, you have that right and obligation to fend for yourself but, do it smarter. Take the time to learn about your options and invest in your future so government aid will not be such a major part of your retirement plans.

      • Tatiana

        Can you tell me about one of those accounts? I am on disability and I could save 100 a month or a little more and I would like to but i have a Master’s degree and no practical financial knowledge and I am trying to learn but the information is overwhelming.Where do I put the extra 100 per month what investment funds are there for poor people with little money?

      • Marlene M.

        You probably came from a rich family. If anyone thinks Young people even up to the age of 30 even think of their mortality let alone just put food in their kids mouths nor do we think we will ever live that long. Wishful thinking but with how much rents have gone up recently I have no doubt people are going to have to be living with other family, friends, or homelessness. You get real if you think most 20 year olds are going to have money in a bank account etc and not touch it for some kind of emergency (such as eating or rent) let alone be able to fix their teeth and truly understand what it takes now days just to survive.
        Get realistic.?

  2. Gloria

    I have a few points to add to all the comments of what all is wrong with the current system. My surgeon was reaching retirement age and said he was told he Had to draw his social security. He said he didn’t need it and wished he had a choice in the matter.
    Second point: In the County I live in it is common practice for former and current drug users to fake mental problems or threaten to harm themselves and the governments cure is to give them a check. These are young people in their 20’s, who are just starting out and could be productive citizens but choose to let the government and you and I support them.
    One last thing, there needs to be random checks on persons already drawing ss disability as I know several people who claim they can’t work and their holding down jobs and collecting under the table.
    How about all the checks being sent out to people that are deceased, yes it happens, and someone is cashing the checks or if it’s auto deposit, someone is using that money!

  3. DON


  4. DON



    OH YES!!!


    • DON


  5. MJean

    Social Security is a pyramid scheme set to collapse – due to theft, fraud, mismanagement, waste, and abuse!

    • ELD

      And so is the stock market. The investors make off with some sweet cash before any of us get the drippings that are left!!!!

      • Ray F.

        Thanks for your comment. When a person dies, family members may be eligible for Survivors Benefits based on the deceased worker’s earnings. If a person dies and there are no eligible survivors, any unused money goes to the Social Security trust funds.

  6. Ken M.

    The easiest fix is to put the money back in the lock box. Do not let the politicians get their hands on it. It was flush and would be today if it was not for Johnson. But once again the only fix is to take back control of the fund and quit using it for everything but Social Security.

  7. Carl C.

    Has anyone considered cracking down on fraud. How many millions are being sent to dead people? Clean up the recipient list and secure a longer life of the social security funds.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Carl, thank you for your concern. We take allegations of fraud very seriously. If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of Social Security benefits, we encourage you to report it.

  8. Pat M.

    Really, do away with Social Security! I’m 60 and have paid into social security since I was 16 to “help” support me when I retire. I have other savings too but who knows how much will be enough. I know people who never paid into Social Security who receive benefits more controls are probably needed but what I don’t know. I don’t look at my benefits like my children are paying for my retirement. I will be drawing the money I invested. Am I supposed to start over at age 60! I wonder what percentage of young people just getting started would opt out of social security if they had the option and how many who opted out would be looking to the government for help when they are my age. PLEASE stopping diverting social security funds and giving it away and take steps to make it sound again – I’m tired of the threats. . . Still working toward tomorrow!

  9. Stephan A.

    If congress and President would repay Social Security Administration what they have taken since Ronald Reagan to now SSA, SSI would have the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS on hand. And SSA was not for balanceing the bugget because they give millions to special interest programs. Social Security is NOT PART OF THE FEDERAL BUDGET. THAT IS THE BIGGEST LIE TOLD BY CONGRESS. NOR IS MEDICARE. THAT IS WHY WE PAY FOR IT SEPARATE.

    • eliedith

      that was bill clinton and george w bush who took funds from ssa, not reagan

  10. Hospitals &.

    Social Security Amendment of 2016

    Free Disability Insurance Reallocation Tax (DIRT) Act

    To immediately amend the DI tax rate from 1.80% to 2.30%, from 0.90% to 1.15% for employees and from 0.90% to 1.15% for employers under Sec. 201(b)(1)(S) of the Social Security Act 42USC(7)II§401 and amend the OASI tax rate from 10.60% to 10.10%, from 5.30% to 5.05% for employees under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3101 (a) and from 5.30% to 5.05% for employers under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3111 (a) to avoid depletion of the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund in 2016 without increasing the overall 12.4% OASDI or 15.3% OASDI and Hospital Insurance (HI) tax-rate under 26USC(A)(2)§1401 beginning October 1, 2015.

    To amend the DI tax rate again in 2018 to 2.20% from 2.30%, from 1.15% to 1.10% for employees and from 1.15% to 1.10% for employers under Sec. 201(b)(1)(S) of the Social Security Act 42USC(7)II§401 and amend the OASI tax rate from 10.10% to 10.20%, from 5.05% to 5.10% for employees under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3101 (a) and from 5.05% to 5.10% for employers under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3111 (a) without increasing the overall 12.4% OASDI or 15.3% OASDI and Hospital Insurance (HI) tax-rate under 26USC(A)(2)§1401 to maximize efficiency until a deficit appears in the OASI Trust Fund in 2019.

    Without Income Limit Law (WILL) Act

    To abolish the maximum taxable limit on DI contributions on January 1, 2016 and OASI contributions January 1, 2017 and repeal Adjustment of the contribution and benefit base Section 230 of the Social Security Act 42USC(7)§430.

    To require the Social Security Administration to pay for SSI Costs beginning January 1, 2017.

    To share profits in excess of social security program costs to the general fund of the U.S Treasury on a sliding scale beginning year end 2016 DI 50/50 with the USPS, and OASI 10/90 to eliminate the federal budget deficit. In 2020 OASI would share at negotiated rates an estimated 25/75, by 2025 OASDI would share 50/50 and by 2030 OASDI would save to pay for the peak in costs of Baby Boomer generation in 2035 that might raise the overall OASDI tax rate from 12.4%.

    PS I have not completely worked Altman, Nancy J.; Kingson, Eric R. Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding it Will Help Us All. The New Press. New York. London. 2015’s into the supporting documents because I was afraid of just such a hostile takeover by Harvard IP without a care for the library fines for abusers of copyright privileges. While Nancy may be able to deny DI distracted SSI petitioners, who haven’t been working for the past ten years, does this Harvard infringement on Social Security Matters constitute discrimination against disability, and generation x as her unsupported plea to avoid conviction for deprivation of relief benefits does in her book and its plans are conflicts of interest with federal process. Some of Nancy’s rhetoric is good, or at least up to date, but her plans fall into the lowest common denominator of Congress that constitutes a conflict of interest because SSA is engaged in a peculiar bureaucratic fascination with crumpled pieces of paper while they formally ignore and fail to do the work to arrive at the true answer to the Actuaries negligence that lies before them now, or the way wherewithal to file for SSI burdens the self-educated individual, for that matter. SSA has an Actuary, Commissioner and Treasurer (ACT). SSA cannot just run off with a Harvard plagiarist from a couping library due to conflict of interest law. Can the homo sapiens in this Ivy League conflict of interest agree that my Social Security Amendment of 2016 is right and that Congress should pass it now that they have returned from their holiday and before the end of FY 2015 on September 31, 2015. The mathematics are law done in the 9th edition of Health and Welfare that also balances the federal budget. The just thing to do is tax the rich. SSA and the OMB Director however have a responsibility to account for it and their complete existence has become a state of discriminatory rebellion against the more accurate and just HA accounting. SSA (the Actuary) must perform the FICA tax rate calculation to solve the current DI crisis at no cost to anyone, for free, as a moral prerequisite for taxing the rich and Congress roughly $1,300 in 2016 and $6,500 in 2017. It is however a horrendously difficult equation that takes a week the first time and fondly known by FDR loyalists as the “pain in the OASDI tax rate calculation”. The tax rate must be passed October 1, 2015 for FY 2016 to avoid depleting the DI trust fund without ruining the Actuaries reputation upon which we are first reliant upon for the OASDI tax on the rich almost everyone knows to be solution before the fraudulent accounting of the OMB Director discriminating against HA might delay the implementation of the full OASDI tax and perpetuate a partial state of DI taxation without income limit that pays for the USPS and helps the DI trust fund to save.

    RE: Health and Welfare. 9th Ed. Hospitals & Asylums HA-26-7-15 http://www.title24uscode.org/haw.htm

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