Social Security Resource Page
Social Security is the federal government's single largest program. In 2014, the federal government is projected to spend more than $850 billion in Social Security benefits to retired workers, their spouses, dependents, surviving members of a family, and disabled workers. Unfortunately, the program faces serious financial challenges. Social Security is set to exhaust all the assets in its trust funds by 2033 according to the program's own trustees. The independent Congressional Budget Office forecasts a slightly earlier date of 2031, at which point all benefits would be cut across the board by more than 20 percent. The longer policymakers wait, the larger reforms will need to be and the fewer the options will be available to address the funding shortfall gradually.
To highlight the important role that Social Security plays, its relationship with the federal budget, the financial challenges it faces, and some approaches to reforming the program -- CRFB has produced several policy papers, an interactive Social Security tool, overviews of the each year's trustees report, blog posts, op-eds from board members and staff, and events.
Below are resources from CRFB and other organizations that discuss Social Security and its finances.
The Social Security Reformer
Understanding Social Security
- Social Security 101 - This resource covers the basics of the Social Security program, including an explanation of what the program does, what current financial projections look like, how it affects the federal budget, some possible reforms, and a brief discussion of the Disability Insurance program.
- Appendix of CRFB's 2010 report on Social Security's finances
The Latest Social Security Projections
- CRFB's analysis of the Congressional Budget Office's Social Security projections (9/2013 blog post, 12/2013 blog post)
- CRFB's analysis of the 2013 Social Security Trustees report
Top CRFB Papers on Social Security
- Social Security and the Costs of Delay (August 2013): This report quantifies the costs of delaying Social Security reform --showing that delay only produces greater benefit reductions, larger tax increases, more limited options, and less time for beneficiaries to plan and adjust for changes.
- Understanding Social Security and the Budget (March 2011): This report describes the two competing views of Social Security: an independent program with its own funding stream, or another part of the overall unified budget. Importantly, either view ultimately leads to the same conclusion: Social Security's finances are in need of reform.
- The Case for the Chained CPI (March 2013): This white paper makes the full case for implementing the chained CPI across the federal budget, including for Social Security. The paper discusses the economic, budgetary, and distributional arguments for switching to the more accurate measure of inflation.
Top CRFB Blogs Posts on Social Security
- Getting the Facts Right on Social Security (January 2014): In this blog that was cross-posted with Angry Bear, we respond to a piece on their site that makes many misleading claims about Social Security, addressing 10 of their claims in turn.
- Setting the Record Straight on Social Security (December 2013): In this blog, we take on three common questions about the Social Security program in order to address commentators that have been calling for an expansion of benefits under the reasoning that Social Security's shortfalls are easily addressed.
- Is Chained CPI a 6 Percent Benefit Cut or a 25 Percent Benefit Increase? (April 2013): In response to some commentators claiming that the chained CPI would cut benefits after 20 years, we show that the chained CPI could be both a benefit cut and a benefit increase depending on the baseline.
- Raising Eligibility Ages Is Good for the Budget...and the Economy (January 2012): This blog examines the budgetary and economic effects of raising the Social Security Early Eligibility and Normal Retirement ages, as well as the Medicare eligibility age.
- Yes, Actually, Raising the Retirement Age Is a Good Idea (September 2010): This blog explores the many good reasons to raise the Normal Retirement Age, including making a relatively progress change and encouraging people to work longer to keep up with a greater life expectancy.
Top CRFB Op-Eds on Social Security
- Lorenzen: Five Facts You Should Know about Social Security
- Lorenzen: Why 'Chained CPI' Works for Social Security
- Goldwein: Reforming Social Security Is Easy -- But it won't Be for Long
- Goldwein: Social Security Disability System Is Broken
- MacGuineas: The $2.5 Trillion Slush Fund