Tara Moore | Getty Images
Most Americans are concerned about running out of Social Security during their lifetime, and those fears only got worse amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s according to a survey by the financial services company Nationwide, which found 71% of adults feel this way. Fears about the benefit program were greatest among Generation X at 83% and Millennials at 77%, while only 61% of baby boomers agreed.
In addition, 47% of millennials said they believe they are “not getting a penny from the benefits they deserve”.
Many Americans – 59% – say they are more pessimistic now if the program is no longer supported after the pandemic outbreak. Meanwhile, 19% say Covid-19 caused them to rethink their plans to get benefits, with 11% planning to postpone filing and 9% planning to submit an earlier application.
More from Personal Finance:
Test your knowledge of social security retirement benefits
As retirees say social benefits should change
New bill would require more social security certificates to be sent in the mail
The trust funds that Social Security relies on to pay benefits have become scarce. The last official projection stated by the Social Security Administration that these funds could be used up in 2035, then 79% of the promised benefits would be payable. That estimate weighed all the effects of a pandemic.
Still, fears that the program would dry up and the performance reviews would end are unfounded, said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the bipartisan Policy Center.
“A lot of people hear the words bankrupt or bankrupt and automatically assume that the program will just go away,” Akabas said.
“The reality is that social security has been around for over 80 years and has more support than any other government function,” he said. “It’s very unlikely to go away anytime soon.”
While there is likely to be a solution, it takes Congress a long time to act. That can create uncertainty for Americans trying to plan their retirement, Akabas said.
The sooner the legislature acts, the less dramatic these changes can be. Higher taxes, benefit cuts, or a combination of both are among the adjustments they would likely consider.
“It’s not that serious or significant that the program will go away,” Akabas said. “But it’s also not a simple solution that we can wait for the last minute and just patch it overnight.”
Research suggests that benefit cuts would likely be less than 25% if they happen at all, said Joe Elsasser, founder and president of Covisum, a company that makes social security claims.
To calm these fears and enable people to plan, Covisum offers recently launched an online tool to show how cuts in social security benefits would affect a person’s monthly checks. It is noteworthy that the computer does not contain a scenario in which the advantages are completely eliminated.
“The probability that it will go to zero is as close as possible to zero,” said Elsasser.
Nationwide’s survey was conducted online from the Harris Poll between April 19 and May 7. It comprised 1,931 US adults.