This election season offers an opportunity to reframe the debate over Social Security. It is necessary, of course, to ensure the program’s long-term health beyond 2034, when the system is projected to come up short. But this can’t be done by broadly cutting benefits. In fact, there’s mounting evidence that Social Security, which has become ever more important in retirement, needs to be expanded.
Currently, 36 percent of retirees rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income; over all, 65 percent of retirees rely on it for more than half of their income. The average monthly benefit hovers around $1,300. Retirement security won’t be any better for those now in their 50s. The Government Accountability Officerecently found that 52 percent of American households with someone 55 or older have nothing saved for retirement and that only half of that 52 percent will get anything from a company pension. For those ages 55 to 64 with retirement savings, the median amount is barely in the six figures.
Younger workers are arguably worse off, because saving has become increasingly difficult, or impossible, in the face of stagnating wages, high debt, high rents and the lack of employer-provided retirement benefits. In 2013, 44 percent of workers on the lower half of the income scale had a retirement plan at work, down from 54 percent in 1995, according to data from the Federal Reserve.
– The New York Times