The Social Security Trust Fund has no hard assets, just IOUs from the government. Because of this fact, the Social Security system will fail before the estimates made by the government.
We will be forced to use “means testing” to distribute what little money the Social Security system will have. Means testing is already used by many government agencies. For example, Medicaid and food stamp programs are already means tested.
When means testing for Social Security starts, Social Security will ask retirees questions related to their financial situation, and then pay out what it feels is the appropriate benefit for any one particular participant based on net worth and income. (No doubt some Social Security recipients who are already on Social Security or who are close to retirement age may not be impacted as much, exactly how changes for Social Security will be implemented is anybody’s guess.)
This is a serious problem with the Social Security system we don’t talk about, the fact we will have created a retirement system in America that will reward those who have not saved money for their retirement, and punish those who do.
When you factor in Medicare, the problem is even more dire because health care can be very costly. People could save $500,000, saving their whole lifetime, retire, need heart surgery, and there goes their life savings. They won’t be very happy when they hear about others who were irresponsible and did not save during their working years got the surgery for free because they didn’t have the means.
The media and politicians can continue to not address this issue, but eventually, Social Security will fail, not only because there is no trust fund, but because the only way the system can continue will be to means test participants.
Once that happens, young Americans, as a group, will not work harder and save more when they know the reward will be less.
It’s amazing that for the first 200 years in America, we believed that education, hard work, entrepreneurship, saving money and investing was the way to prosperity. However, in the 1980s we started believing that borrowing and spending and living off the government zombies was the way to go.
Now, programs such as Social Security aren’t free government assistance programs, but are programs someone actually paid into and most likely for a very long time, are at risk of defaulting.