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

CRFB's Reformer is an interactive tool that allows users to choose from a variety of benefit and revenue reforms to close Social Security's 75-year shortfall. Click here to try the 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

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.

Click here to see all CRFB papers on Social Security

Top CRFB Blogs Posts on Social Security

Click here to see all CRFB's blogs on Social Security 

Top CRFB Op-Eds on Social Security

Other Resources