What Happens When Social Security Runs Out

If you anticipate retiring after 2034, the present forecast for your future Social Security payments may not be accurate. When this occurs, the government fund that pays out the monthly cheques may not have enough money to pay out in full. 

If Congress does not strengthen or limit Social Security, current beneficiaries aged 55 and younger might have their payments decreased.

Kelly LaVigne, vice president of consumer analytics at Allianz Life, thought that was impossible two years ago. The cliché has always been that no politician in the world could maintain their job if they advocate for Social Security cuts.

In the current economic and political atmosphere, however, it is not unreasonable to fear that Social Security may be eliminated or reduced. 43% of respondents to the Northwestern Mutual 2024 Planning & Progress Study lacked confidence that Social Security would be available when they needed it.

No matter how the midterm elections turn out in 2024, Congress is doomed to a stalemate in this matter. If legislative paralysis persists for an extended period, Social Security might be altered. The most recent figures from the Consumer Price Index indicate that inflation is reducing but is still high enough to cause alarm. This might result in another substantial Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), further depleting the fund. The government stated a month ago that COLA will climb by 8.7% in 2024, the largest increase in four decades.

Therefore, if you’re under 55, it’s important to consider what a Social Security reduction will mean for your retirement.

How to calculate the reality of a reduced social security payment

You need not estimate your future Social Security benefits down to zero.

In the near future, young people can still expect to receive some form of Social Security benefits. When Social Security specialist and founder of the site Social Security Intelligence Devin Carroll calculates his retirement forecasts, he halves the figure. How this affects you depends on your savings and your retirement income needs. For example, if a 40-year-old makes $100,000 per year, their expected Social Security benefit is around $3,000 per month. Then you must determine how much you need in retirement funds to replace that amount. This is a substantial quantity of money, adds Carroll.

You must also evaluate whether Social Security will continue to provide spousal benefits to nonworking spouses, which can be up to half the amount of the primary earner’s check. Or, this may be restricted to those with higher incomes.

Social Security’s full retirement age may be delayed beyond 67 in the future, so you may need to account for extra years of spending. Further aspects of the proposed Secure 2.0 legislation may impact future retirement financing, including the age at which qualified plans must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Use an online retirement calculator that allows you to alter the amount for Social Security to perform approximate estimates. If you examine the $100,000-earning 40-year-old couple, it becomes evident how much of a difference it would make if they retired at 67 and received $6,000 a month in joint Social Security benefits rather than half. According to the AARP calculator, if the couple saves 10% of their earnings and has already saved $50,000, they would have $1.1 million at retirement and be on track to meet more than 60% of their current costs. Without the full sum of Social Security, this couple would have a deficit of around $750,000.

A retirement shortfall of more than $1 million may occur. This is especially true if only one spouse works and the family benefit is cut to $1,500 per month. A retirement shortfall of more than $1 million may occur.

How to locate replacement earnings

The solution to replenishing the lost funds is one of those easy yet virtually hard tasks: saving more. It is preferable to know this now than find out after it is too late. You might begin by increasing your 401(k) contributions.

Consider a full use of corporate retirement programs may enable all workers to accumulate significant funds for their retirement years regardless of age.

This may be insufficient.

Maintain a standard 401(k) and a Roth 401(k), but don’t overlook nonqualified accounts. These have benefits as well. Before RMDs kick in, you need sufficient funds to meet living expenses. By keeping your ETF portfolio basic, you may reduce the tax burden. It is difficult to find a suitable replacement if you wish to replace the guaranteed income of Social Security with a monthly check until death. You need to consider an annuity plan, which may be pricey and complex.

Social Security is one of the few investments that can pay for two lives and expand with cost-of-living adjustments to counteract inflation. It is also a tax-favored income, explains LaVigne, and not many things can accomplish that.