Back in 2016, several of the main presidential candidates talked about raising Social Security benefits. But few dared talk about realistic suggestions about how to close the system’s existing shortfall, much less how to raise money to cover new benefits. Now that Democrats are wielding the baton at the House of Representatives, the choir is again raising its voice about the need for boosting benefits.
But the music will soon stop for Social Security, unless something is done about the system’s pending insolvency. In only a dozen years, the system’s old-age fund will be exhausted, meaning that benefits will fall by over 20%. This will impact everyone: retirees, near-retirees, and current workers.
The size of America’s Social Security shortfall amounts to a staggering more than $34 trillion, or $200,000 per worker, using standard pension accounting methods. Few of us could afford to pay off our shares of that Social Security debt and still save for our own retirements. In fact, the size of the system’s deficit is so dire that we should be droning melancholy dirges, instead of finding ways to raise benefit.
Nevertheless, there are several interesting reform options to return the system to solvency, outlined in the Social Security Advisory Board’s most recent report.
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