People approaching retirement usually have two questions about Social Security: “Will it be there for me?,” and “When should I start taking Social Security benefits?”
Social Security: Will it be there?
Social Security’s long-term financial health has received plenty of press. But if you’re 50 or older, you’re less likely to be significantly affected by the system’s financial challenges.
If you’re wondering whether Social Security will be there for you, keep in mind:
- Social Security benefits are projected to be fully payable until 20341
- Social Security is politically sensitive. Older voters – the people receiving Social Security benefits – have very high voter turnout rates. Politicians are unlikely to reduce benefits for those currently receiving or about to receive benefits. Changes are more likely to affect future recipients.
- At some point, inaction will be too risky. In 1983, Social Security was thought to be months from running a deficit. Democrats and Republicans came together to make changes that could sustain the system for several more decades. In 2015 the Bipartisan Budget Act included a section intended to “close Social Security loopholes.” Demographic trends continue to work against the system’s finances, and further changes will be necessary.
Social Security and your retirement
71% of Americans fear Social Security could run out in their lifetimes.2 Experts agree this is most likely not the case, but action shouldn’t be delayed by lawmakers.2 Although tax and benefit changes are most likely to affect younger workers, if you are nearing retirement age, you still may wish to use conservative assumptions in planning how to use future Social Security benefits. A solution that creates a financially sustainable system is likely because of the potentially catastrophic impact of doing nothing. The program’s scope, the number of people who rely on it as their main source of income, and the range of options for addressing financial shortfalls should eventually spur action to make improvements.
Social Security: When should I take it?
The second most frequently asked question about Social Security is when to begin receiving benefits.