Key Point: Whether someone is a Gen Z, millennial, Gen X, or a baby boomer, there will come a time when millions of individuals from these respective generations will start receiving benefits via the Social Security program.
But with the constant reminders that the funds-depleting benefits program might not be around in the coming decades, what can Americans really count on?
Most financial experts believe that Social Security benefit estimates for those born 1946 through 1964 likely won’t change much but that doesn’t mean that future cuts are entirely off the table.
“Baby boomers should plan for benefits as they are projected, but stress test for a benefit cut. Historically benefit cuts have been phased in over time,” Joe Elsasser, a certified financial planner and president of Covisum, recently told USA Today.
He did note that the last solvency crisis happened in 1983. “And some of the reforms that were put in place are still being phased in today, such as the increase in full retirement age from sixty-five to sixty-seven,” he added.
Delay Filing for Benefits
If baby boomers want to take full advantage of their Social Security benefits, then it would be prudent to wait till age seventy to file—as the absolute maximum monthly payout would be $3,895.
“Workers planning for their retirement should be aware that retirement benefits depend on age at retirement. If a worker begins receiving benefits before his/her normal (or full) retirement age, the worker will receive a reduced benefit. A worker can choose to retire as early as age sixty-two, but doing so may result in a reduction of as much as 30 percent,” according to a Social Security Administration information sheet.
“Starting to receive benefits after normal retirement age may result in larger benefits. With delayed retirement credits, a person can receive his or her largest benefit by retiring at age seventy,” according to the information sheet.
Social Security Future for Gen Xers
For those born 1965 through 1980, Elsasser has recommended planning on a 10 percent reduction in Social Security benefits.
“For the sixty-five million of you who are between the ages of forty-one and fifty-six, you are in your peak earnings years,” Marcia Mantell, a principal with Mantell Retirement Consulting, told the national newspaper.
“You’ll be well-served to rethink, re-budget and redesign your spending and your savings strategy in case Social Security delivers less in income than currently projected. You have time on your side, and every $1,000 or $2,000 or $5,000 you can sock away now will increase your income for retirement and balance out the trade-offs that you may have to make,” she added.
As for Gen Z and millennials, the experts noted that it’s too early to make predictions or even worry about the future of the Social Security program.
“You are too young to confidently guess how Social Security will pay benefits,” Mantell said. “Half of you don’t even yet have your forty credits for eligibility. So, your focus will be well-served to be on you.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.