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Unraveling the impending Social Security crisis The United States Social Security system, a critical pillar of the nation’s social safety net, is facing an impending crisis. According to the government’s own Social Security website, starting in...

This story originally appeared on Due

The United States Social Security system, a critical pillar of the nation’s social safety net, is facing an impending crisis. According to the government’s own Social Security website, starting in 2034, the system will only be able to pay out 80% of what was promised to hardworking Americans who were compelled to contribute. This looming shortfall is a cause for concern for millions of Americans who rely on these benefits for retirement security.

Understanding the root cause

The root cause of this crisis lies in the structure of the Social Security system itself. To understand this, let’s consider the case of an average American worker. This worker pays a Social Security tax of 6.2% on every dollar they earn. However, there is a cap on this tax. If a worker earns more than $168,000 in a year, they do not have to pay the Social Security tax on the income above this threshold.

The implications of the cap

This cap has significant implications for high-income earners. Take, for example, Tim Cook, who earned $100 million last year. Despite his substantial income, Cook only paid Social Security tax on a small fraction of his earnings due to the cap. This means that high-income earners like Cook do not contribute to the Social Security system in proportion to their earnings.

Benefits distribution: a different picture

While no one pays more than their fair share according to the current system’s logic, the benefits distribution paints a different picture. Let’s consider the case of Mr. Johnson, a lifelong worker who has been married multiple times. His wives, none of whom have worked or paid into the Social Security system, are all eligible to collect benefits based on Mr. Johnson’s contributions.

Case study: Mr. Johnson’s family

Mr. Johnson’s first wife, to whom he was married for ten years, his second wife, also a ten-year marriage, and his third wife, to whom he has been married for just one year, are all eligible for benefits. Additionally, his second wife’s child, who is still under 18, and the twins he just had with his third wife are also eligible.

In total, seven people can collect benefits based on Mr. Johnson’s contributions, even though he is the only one who has paid into the system. Moreover, these seven people are not simply splitting what Mr. Johnson is owed. Instead, they are collectively able to claim 180% of what Mr. Johnson was promised by Social Security.

Imbalance in the system

This situation highlights a significant imbalance in the Social Security system. While there is a cap on how much one can contribute to the system, there is no corresponding limit on how many people can collect benefits based on a single contributor’s earnings. This imbalance is a significant factor contributing to the system’s impending insolvency.

Far-reaching implications

The implications of this crisis are far-reaching. Millions of Americans rely on Social Security benefits for their retirement security. If the system cannot pay out the promised benefits, these individuals could face significant financial hardship.

Planning for the future

Therefore, it is crucial for everyone to start planning for a future where the Social Security benefits they were promised may not be fully available. This could involve saving more for retirement, investing in other forms of retirement income, or working longer.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the US Social Security system is facing a significant crisis. With its cap on contributions and unlimited benefits based on a single contributor’s earnings, the current structure is unsustainable. Unless significant reforms are made, the system can only pay out 80% of promised benefits starting in 2034. As such, all Americans must start planning for this eventuality.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the impending crisis of the US Social Security system?

Starting in 2034, the US Social Security system will only be able to pay out 80% of what was promised to Americans who have contributed to it. This is due to the system’s current structure, which has a cap on contributions but no limit on the number of beneficiaries based on a single contributor’s earnings.

Q. What is the root cause of this crisis?

The root cause lies in the structure of the Social Security system itself. The Social Security tax is capped, meaning high-income earners do not contribute to the system in proportion to their earnings. Additionally, there is no limit on how many people can collect benefits based on a single contributor’s earnings.

Q. How does the cap on the Social Security tax affect the system?

The cap means that high-income earners only pay Social Security tax on a portion of their earnings. This results in these individuals not contributing to the system in proportion to their income, which contributes to the system’s impending insolvency.

Q. How does the benefits distribution work?

The benefits distribution allows multiple people to collect benefits based on a single contributor’s earnings. For example, all of a contributor’s spouses, regardless of whether they have worked or paid into the system, are eligible to collect benefits. This can result in more benefits being claimed than what was contributed by the worker.

Q. What are the implications of this crisis?

Millions of Americans rely on Social Security benefits for their retirement security. If the system cannot pay out the promised benefits, these individuals could face significant financial hardship. Therefore, everyone must start planning for a future where the Social Security benefits they were promised may not be fully available.

Q. What can be done to prepare for this crisis?

Everyone must start planning for a future where the Social Security benefits they were promised may not be fully available. This could involve saving more for retirement, investing in other forms of retirement income, or working longer.

The post Unraveling the impending Social Security crisis appeared first on Due.

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