Protecting the Legacy of Social Security for Future Generations

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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150 thoughts on “Protecting the Legacy of Social Security for Future Generations

  1. Social Security was created to meet a social need. Anyone who thinks “they could do better on their own” or “it’s Socialist” are fooling themselves or watching too much Fox “news.” As you get older things tend to fall apart and no matter what skills you might have the young are in more demand. When you consider how the stock market has been behaving the last 15 years, only a fool or the wealthy would throw those kind of dice.

    In general, young folks think they have the world by the tail and don’t need anything like a social support system. Wish I could be a fly on the wall when they hit 65 and get a dose of reality.

    John

    • Social Security is a benefit we all need to support, strengthen and protect now and in the future. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start growing and preserving it.

    • Amen brother. I could take care of myself better if my young ones had a chance at being able to afford gas to get to a minimum wage job. As much as a parent can offer (or scream) advice about college education and how hard it’s going to get without money the reality is the life of hard knocks. Although when small grandchildren are the victims of homelessness that’s where I draw my own line.
      I’m ashamed to admit but because I give others a boost just to keep them off the streets, depressed, or for hopelessness I am depending on the social security I have been aying in for for the 48 years I have contributed to this system and not by choice, it’s mandatory and now it’s spent. Now what. Heard all us baby boomers into a mass grave called 55+ parks? Haha
      Actually, that sounds even too much money as the parks keep wanting more and more lot rent but the residents are on fixed incomes already. There has to be some very smart and caring individuals with decent solutions and who will lead our country ,our cities, or communities in a feasable and fair program where everyone has to contribute to the good of all. I’m game, I have been doing that in my own way all my life and I know I’m not alone. Let’s speak up about ANY solutions for homelessness,etc that we can. Check out utube under mini homes for the homeless and take that just a bit further to include new and just communities of people who can rely on each other to do their parts. Just saying

  2. As we all know, our employer matches our SS & MC contributions for a total of 15.3% on before tax earnings. Note that your employer pays because they need your services, therefore it is compensation for your work product. By my arithmetic, translating this to after tax earnings, the effective percentage contribution is greater, perhaps 20 to 25% depending on income. In simple terms, if you are working legitimately, for every dollar you spend, a couple of dimes to a quarter funds this program. Please help me understand why these programs are underfunded?

  3. Is the purpose NOT to pay the donors of this program because I have three friends who died in their 50s this year and NEVER received their share. It is said that the rich live into their nineties and beyond, therefore they get to collect longer while the poorer have an early death. How about the government put back all the contributions that were stolen from the program? By the way, my mom died at 68 and my sister at 66. They did not see longevity in their lives.

    • 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.

  4. This was actually a good discussion. As a former Social Security claims representive, I am happy to see that many people do understand the issues Involved fairly well. For the rest, I only advise them to make sure their opinions are based on facts, not just personal opinion.

    • I would like to know these also. Anyone have a reasonable answer that doesn’t already have a vested interest not to pay such as the rich!
      More money for those who escape the taxes.
      By the way, isn’t it personal opinion we all share! Free speech and all.

  5. I will repeat a comment I made because I don’t see it on the blog. I have four friends who died in their 50s. my mom died at 68 and my sister just died at 66. We don’t have longevity in my family. Although, there are certain members of the upper class who live into their 90s because of improved health care. These things should be taken into consideration! Don’t raise the age, shore it up!

  6. I see that as always, people want it all for themselves and not the other guy. What we need is a 2 cent increase in SS taxes and an 2 year increase in future time for all. From 68 years old to 70 years old, keeping the early retirement in place. Medicare takes 80% of my SS payment.

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