Social Security No Longer Feeling So Secure

It’s a bit of fresh air to witness that the nation’s over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities (including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) aren’t going entirely unnoticed by the public. A recent USA Today/Gallup Poll found that a majority of Americans, both working and retirees, harbor significant doubts about Social Security’s ability to provide the benefits it currently promises.

From USA Today:

“…a record six of 10 non-retirees predict Social Security won’t be able to pay them benefits when they stop working. Skepticism is highest among the youngest workers: Three-fourths of those 18 to 34 don’t expect to get a Social Security check when they retire.

“The public’s views are more dire than the calculations of Social Security’s trustees. Last year, they projected the system would begin running in the red in 2016, as the Baby Boom generation retired, and the trust fund would be exhausted in 2037. Even then, Social Security — which celebrates its 75th anniversary next month — could finance about three-fourths of current benefits through the payroll tax.

“The downbeat outlook reflects ‘all the attacks on Social Security that we have this total crisis in the program,’ says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. What’s more, she says, ‘the fear and distrust as a result of the financial collapse and the Great Recession has spilled over into people’s expectations generally, that you can’t count on anything.'”

Yet, the “attacks on Social Security” — as a spending program the nation can’t afford in its current form — are justified now and have been so since the ’70s and ’80s, long before the financial crisis got underway. Perhaps this increased awareness of US fiscal imbalances will help to spark the much needed political will to address the issue realistically. You can read more of the poll results in USA Today’s coverage of faith in Social Security system tanking.


Rocky Vega,
The Daily Reckoning