What You Don’t Know about Social Security 

September 2, 2021 Topic: economy Region: Americas Blog Brand: Politics Tags: Social SecurityRetirementSavingsBenefitsEconomy

What You Don’t Know about Social Security 

Social Security will cease to exist unless Congress takes some action to shore up the popular program. 

Social Security’s main fund, will be depleted a year sooner than originally planned if nothing is done to preserve it, according to a long-delayed government report that was issued Tuesday. 

“The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in 2033, one year sooner than last year’s estimate, with 76 percent of benefits payable at that time,” the Social Security Administration said Tuesday. 

“The Trustees’ projections in this year’s report include the best estimates of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Social Security program,” Kilolo Kijakazi, the acting commissioner of Social Security, said in a press statement accompanying the report. 

“The pandemic and its economic impact have had an effect on Social Security’s Trust Funds, and the future course of the pandemic is still uncertain,” Kijakazi said. “Yet, Social Security will continue to play a critical role in the lives of 65 million beneficiaries and 176 million workers and their families during 2021.”

This does not mean that Social Security will cease to exist that year, and it’s likely that Congress will take some action before then to shore up the popular program. 

In the meantime, a contributor to Forbes this week looked at the Social Security program, and let current and future beneficiaries know that there’s a lot they might not know about how it works. 

“Did you know Social Security is more than a retirement program? It offers disability and spousal benefits and there are lots of rule governing who gets benefits and how much,” John F. Wasik wrote in an op-ed that was published by Forbes. "Surprisingly, few Americans understand the basic details of how the nation’s most essential—and successful—social insurance program works.”

Wasik cited a recent Nationwide survey finding that many Americans do not know basic facts about Social Security. 

“A full 39% don’t know the eligible age to receive full benefits.

"Just over half of those who are not already receiving Social Security (51%) do not have a clear understanding of how much they will receive in future income,” Wasik noted, citing the survey results. 

“Thirty percent are unaware that Social Security may offer benefits for their spouses and children… Over a third (37%) incorrectly assume that Social Security benefits are not protected against inflation… Nearly half (45%) mistakenly believe if they claim their benefits early, their benefits will go up automatically when reaching full retirement age or don’t know this is false.” 

Wasik went on to recommend that those soon to collect Social Security should visit the program’s Retirement Estimator tool, to get an idea of what they can expect in terms of benefits. 

“The Retirement Estimator calculates a benefit amount for you based on your actual Social Security earnings record. Please keep in mind that these are just estimates,” according to the estimator website. “We can’t give you your actual benefit amount until you apply for benefits.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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