Workers at or near retirement age have nothing to fear. Social Security remains solvent and can afford to pay them full benefits, including an annual cost of living increase. And at that time, there’s little doubt that political pressure will force Congress to act to keep benefits flowing.
The news isn’t nearly as good for younger workers.
They’ll continue to pay Social Security taxes throughout their working lives. But they shouldn’t expect to get back everything they invest. They’ll also be on the hook to fund some $6 trillion needed to repay the Social Security trust fund in the decades ahead.
The time to act is now. Lawmakers should begin raising the retirement age, so future workers pay in longer before they can collect benefits. They should also create personal retirement accounts which, like an IRA, would allow individuals to set aside a small portion of their Social Security taxes -- real money -- in accounts they would own and control.
It won’t be easy, but we can preserve Social Security for future generations. The question is, do we have the will to do so?