S O CIAL
Yes, changes are needed to restore the program
to long-term fiscal health. No, it’s not hard to do.
But the longer we wait, the harder it gets. Here are some
possible solutions from both sides of the aisle
Will Social Security be there for you? The answer is
yes, but the future strength of the program depends
on the outcome of a debate now raging in Washington. That
debate often links Social Security to the ballooning federal
deficit, although the program plays no direct role in the
nation’s debt and currently enjoys an enormous surplus.
So, what’s the problem? Social Security faces pressures
both political and demographic. Even as it’s been swept
up in the debt issue, the system is bracing for a wave of
boomer retirements that, combined with today’s longer
life spans, will exhaust the program’s surplus funds over
the next 25 years. At that point, Social Security would
have only enough funds from current revenue to pay
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out about 75 cents on every dollar of promised benefits.
That scenario has younger Americans wondering
whether Social Security will be able to meet their needs. A
2010 AARP survey found that just 25 percent of Americans
ages 30 to 49 are confident about Social Security’s future—compared with 58 percent of people 65 and over.
Here’s the good news: There’s time to implement
small changes that can put Social Security in balance
for the long term. Think of Social Security as a gigantic
battleship that turns slowly: The sooner we start making
adjustments, the smaller the required changes.
How does Social Security really work? Read on to
understand the debate, the issues, and the options.