If there's anything we can be sure of at The Willis Report, it's that you, our viewers, jealously guard your Social Security benefits, and who can blame you? You paid into the system; you should, after all get your money back.
Today, the AARP came out demanding that Congress not touch Social Security benefits as it begins discussing the debt ceiling.
In fact, it seems there's a general agreement that Social Security isn't the most troubled entitlement program on our list. The President, for example, has described the program as structurally sound. Maybe we need some tweaks, but otherwise, he and others maintain Social Security is stable.
Two academics point out that may not be the case. They say the Social Security Administration underestimates how long Americans will live, and how much money will be needed… as much as $800 billion short! They say the fund will run out of money even sooner than the government says.
Their analysis is based on some pretty logical assumptions: people are living healthier lifestyles, giving up the smoking, eating better, and as a result, they will live longer and demand benefits longer.
They note that forecasting methods for debt have barely changed since the Administration was created in 1935. Sounds like the government, right? 77-years, and we just keep doing it the same old way.
To ignore the future of Social Security is a big mistake. The program ran a deficit in 2010 for the first time in a quarter century, spending $49 billion more in benefits than it received in revenues, and it drew from trust funds to cover the shortfall.
Over the next 40 years, the number of people aged 65 will reach 80 million in 2040. Already, Social Security payments to beneficiaries jumped 70% in the decade ended in 2011.
This is a system that is broken. It needs fixing, and reduced benefits for some- the wealthy- raising the retirement age for future retirees- are all tweaks that need to be made.
We'll see if Congress has the stomach for it!