Social Security: Just the Facts on Finances, Benefits, and Public Opinion
Are you interested in learning more about Social Security: Just the Facts? (If you have not seen the video, click to watch below.) This page provides more information and lists additional resources for exploring each topic.
“Social Security is insurance.”
Social insurance encompasses broad-based systems that help workers and their families pool risks to avoid loss of income due to retirement, death, disability, or unemployment, and to ensure access to health care. In the case of Social Security, it covers workers for the risks that go hand-in-hand with getting older but are out of one’s control, affect all of us, and are difficult to plan for.
“The retirement costs of the baby boomers are mostly paid for.”
Yearly surpluses have been accumulating in the trust fund since 1984. Social Security has collected more in revenue than it has paid out in benefits, creating substantial reserves for the retirement of the baby boomers.
“A large majority of Americans—even across party lines and age groups—don’t mind paying for Social Security because it provides security & stability to the people who get it.”
Many public opinion polls have found that Americans draw a connection between the Social Security taxes they pay and the value they get for themselves, for their families, and for their broader communities. Moreover, working Americans also express willingness to pay more if that is what it will take to preserve Social Security for future generations. Large majorities—across party lines (87% of Democrats; 75% of independents; and 67% of Republicans) and age groups (79% of adults under 35; 71% of those 35-49; and 76% of those 50 to 64 years old)—agree that “it is critical that we preserve Social Security for future generations even if it means increasing working Americans’ contributions to Social Security taxes.”
“The average retirement benefit is modest, $1,230 a month. Yet benefits are the main income for most seniors.”
Social Security’s benefits are modest, both in absolute terms and in terms of the percentage of wages replaced. In light of the trillions of dollars of losses in savings and home equity experienced in the last few years, the adequacy of Social Security benefits is a subject of growing concern.