By: National Academy of Social Insurance

Published: August, 2020


**Updated to reflect the estimates of the 2020 Trustees Report.**


The primer is a PowerPoint presentation of approximately 40 slides that provides factual background about Social Security, its benefits and finances, and some policy options to improve the program. The Academy’s income security staff ensures that the data in the presentation are up-to-date.

Topics covered include:

  • Who receives Social Security? What are typical Social Security benefits? How do benefits compare to earnings for retirees at different wage levels?
  • Who pays for it?
  • How many older Americans receive employer-sponsored pensions?
  • How are Social Security retirement benefits projected to change in the future?
  • What is Social Security disability insurance?
  • What are the “best estimate” long-range projections of Social Security finances? What do the high-cost and low-cost projections show? What is the actuarial deficit?
  • Why will Social Security cost more in the future? Can we afford Social Security in the future? How can we strengthen Social Security in the future? What are our options? Why consider revenue enhancements to balance Social Security?
  • What do American workers say?

Users can download the PowerPoint presentation and sort the slides in a different order or pick and choose a subset to use. The presentation includes talking points that go with each slide. To view the talking points, simply go to View > Notes Page. The sources for the factual material are listed on each slide.

The PDF versions include both the slides and the notes pages that go with them on the same page.

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