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The Future of Social Security


Many Americans are concerned about the future of Social Security because for a lot of people, Social Security income is one of the most important elements of their financial strategy for retirement.


An Investopedia article, What Will Social Security Look Like When You Retire?*, presents some information that I think will help us discuss this very point. First, it addresses Social Security’s future.


According to the article, the Social Security Administration’s 2023 Trustee’s Report predicts that the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund — or OASI — which pays out benefits, will run out of money by around 2033. If that happens, the program won’t have any cash reserves and anticipated receipts will only cover roughly 77 percent of scheduled benefits.


At the close of 2022, Social Security’s surplus was 2.81 trillion dollars, due mainly to contributions from the huge baby boomer generation. But as members of that generation retire, benefit outlays are increasing while fewer people are contributing to the payroll tax that supports current Social Security recipients.



Congress Must Make Big Decisions


Certainly, changes must be made to Social Security and many possible solutions have already been discussed. The Social Security Administration often provides estimates about what specific proposals would mean for Social Security’s bottom line.


Ultimately, what Social Security looks like in 2033 and beyond is up to Congress. Historically, lawmakers have increased payroll tax rates and — less often — have chosen to increase the retirement age for benefit eligibility to keep the program in the black.


Think More Broadly Than Social Security


Many Americans do retire with only Social Security as their most reliable source of income and that can make retirement very difficult. In many cases, Social Security isn’t going to be sufficient for many people to maintain their ideal lifestyle — let alone enjoy the things that make retirement rewarding like travel and new hobbies.


Even if Congress manages to come up with a solution that puts Social Security back on a solid long-term trajectory, people shouldn’t assume the program is the only retirement strategy they’ll need. After all, even now Social Security barely covers living expenses for many beneficiaries


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We are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

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