The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRB), a fiscally hawkish think tank, has developed a tool to tell you how old you will be when the Social Security Trust Funds become insolvent in 2034.
That math isn't terribly vexing, but if you were born after 1966, the tool also estimates the lifetime scheduled benefits you are likely to lose out on as a result of the steep payout cuts that are expected to kick in when the program goes bust. (See also, Introduction to Social Security.)
The CFRB assumes that all beneficiaries will lose 21% of their total benefits starting in 2034, "regardless of their age, income level, or how much they depend on the program." They base the forecast on the Social Security Board of Trustees' 2016 annual report, released in June, which said such a cut would be necessary to avoid a 3.58 percentage point increase in the payroll tax. Of course, a tax hike and benefit cuts could also be combined.
The Trustees' report projects that Social Security's costs will exceed the program's total income in 2020, largely due to demographic trends: from 1974 to 2008, there were 3.2 to 3.4 workers per beneficiary, a ratio that is expected to fall to 2.2 by 2035. The financial crisis destabilized the ratio by causing rampant unemployment. The recovery has not restored balance, however, as Baby Boomers' retirement and the overall aging of the population saddles relatively fewer workers with more beneficiaries. (See also, 4 Things Millennials Need to Know About Economics.)
The younger the worker, the steeper the projected cuts to their benefits. Unless the law is changed, those born in 2016 – who will be just 18 years old when Social Security becomes insolvent – will lose 26% of scheduled lifetime benefits, or $250,206.
Enjoy your Friday.