Yes, we’re keeping a close eye on the Social Security 2100 bill and we’re hoping it can be voted on during the crippled session. Under the provisions, the legislation would adopt a consumer price index for the elderly as the basis for annual cost-of-living adjustments, and would reinstate Social Security tax on annual wages over $400,000.
We know that 2034, the expected date for the trust fund to run dry, is fast approaching. The closer we get to the mid-2030s, the more dire the situation will become and the more drastic the possible measures that need to be taken.
We also follow the proposal of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. I will tell you that my personal opinion is that their solution is not really feasible as proposed. Reducing the full retirement age from 67 to 70 seems to me quite a task. Working this late is not a matter of course, even for people who want to.
The overarching comment I will make is that we believe reforms need to be made to help strengthen the system, without compromising the valuable benefits that so many millions of Americans already rely on and will rely on in the future. I would also like to say that great caution is needed when implementing reforms and that real actuarial professionals should be involved.
Given the complexity of the program and its importance, the potential for negative unintended consequences is very real.
Is there one myth or misunderstanding about Social Security that you wish you could banish by 2023?
One is that too many people think that Social Security will disappear in 2034 or 2035, when in reality that is not the case at all. If Congress takes no action, which we think is unlikely, there would still be a significant amount of benefits to be paid at that point.
This misunderstanding about the solvency of the program, I think, is one of the reasons so many people choose to take Social Security early. They may be doing this out of the false belief that the program will disappear within ten years.
The other misconception that is really problematic is when couples view their claim decisions as individuals. They think that because they worked as individuals, their claims decisions need not be considered collectively. In reality, the opposite is true.
Finally, I would like to point out that there is a great deal of appreciation for the program among all generations, including young people. On our staff we have two passionate young professionals in their late twenties or early thirties, and their enthusiasm about the Social Security program is so inspiring.