Next month, Social Security will turn 82 years old. And like my Grandma Jo, who is also in her 80s, Social Security is still kicking butt and taking names. That’s because the program’s trustees released its annual report today and there’s positive news: it projects that Social Security’s income will exceed benefits paid in 2017, and that the program’s trust fund reserves will continue to grow. The report also shows that Social Security can pay 100 percent of promised benefits until 2034, and 77 percent of benefits after that.
What’s unique about the Social Security program (along with Medicare) that trustees who project out 75 years – no other government program is required by law to take such a long view. And there’s a great many positives to looking forward 75 years into the future. For example, we know exactly when Social Security faces a manageable financial shortfall. And we know that the program is fully and easily affordable. Polling shows Americans value the program and are willing to pay for it – so we can take steps now – such as eliminating the taxable earnings cap – to strengthen the program well into the future.
Social Security is Especially Important for Women
For more than half of women (55 percent) who are 65 or older and who receive benefits, Social Security makes up 50 percent or more of their income. And for more than one in four women over 65, Social Security is virtually their only source of income (90 percent or more).
And in 2015, Social Security dramatically reduced poverty rates for older women. Without Social Security, 44 percent of women 65 and older would have been poor. Social Security benefits brought that number down 34 percentage points – to just 10 percent.
So next month, Grandma Jo and I will be celebrating that Social Security is going to, among other things, continue providing basic income for her and millions of other Americans in their retirement: the same thing it’s done every single day since it was born in 1935.