How should we "save" Social Security?

The idea that we should all have our own personal copy of everything is a modern cultural fantasy that produces waste and, if anything, just reduces social cohesion. There’s no real argument that it’s a necessity, that having to share is detrimental to anyone, etc. Realistically, it’s probably unhealthy that we don’t share more with others, for much of our lives.

The cost of real estate is by the square foot that’s private to an individual or a family. If you can shrink that, the price drops. Everyone who chooses accommodations of that style is not competing for more wasteful alternatives, reducing demand and reducing those prices, as well.

This also increases population density per block, which helps to make public transportation more affordable. You have more customers per stop so you don’t need to build as many lines everywhere. You can lower the price per trip.

Quasi-dorms don’t need to be built for nor targeted to the elderly to have an impact (I shouldn’t have said otherwise). Any reduction in society of the amount of personal space that a person feels that they have to have to themselves is going to ripple across all of society and the economy.

The government doesn’t even need to build these buildings. You put advertising money into campaigns and TED talks that take aim against solitary living and that might be enough to affect the market. The issue today isn’t the buildings, it’s the culture. If you change the culture, entrepreneurs will charge in to fill the demand.

I hate to break it to you, but these things already exist. My father-in-law lived in one, and a friend who is 83 just moved into one. But the rooms are bigger than college dorm rooms since retired people have more stuff, and they need facilities for people who can’t drive or use aids to mobility, and also they need care units for when people get sick.
In general, your suggestions for saving social security are about the most useless I’ve ever seen, and I remember the Bush effort. This is like suggesting doing away with whatever they call food stamps these days and instead reducing food prices the way you suggest. Do away with welfare, utopia is just around the corner.
It’s a lot easier and more practical to make SS a bit less regressive by raising or eliminating the cap. I hadn’t heard the suggestion to tax investment income, but that sounds good. (Not to the level of wages, but something.)
We need Ronald Reagan back. He did a good job the last time, but he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

I don’t believe that I said otherwise. I said that the culture is against them. The amount of people who chose these options is far smaller than it should be.

Specifically, how?

By taxing SS Benefits?
By tightening up disability benefits?
By allowing other governmental funds to borrow from the SS Trust fund?
Establishing SS for Federal employees?

These all happened under Reagan, and there are arguments for and against all of them. What do you think Reagan did to fix or aid SS?

Those “dormitories” are for well off older people. They are very luxurious, and they have lots of amenities. They are also very expensive.

As I mentioned above, my husband and I are working class. Without a lot of personal details, all we have is SS and what little I get from my job.

When we were kicked out of the rental house we lived in for 16 years 'cause the landlord decided he wanted to sell, we bought a double wide in a park. It’s not perfect, but we’re pretty comfortable, and it’s somewhat affordable.
It’s what is available around here for low income people. Don’t think we aren’t ripped off to an extent because that’s how this stuff works.

If I’m describing something as cheap and you’re describing something as an expensive luxury, then are you certain that I’m talking about what you’re thinking about? I’m not sure what you’re thinking about but it’s not what I’m discussing.


Retirement/assisted living communities. I’ve never seen anything else as you described for older people. There are nursing homes, but I would take myself out first.

You’re free to give practical and reasoned arguments against them. Dismissing possibilities is how you lose things like the smart grid, electric cars, LED lights, water re-use, and so on.

You and @Sylvanz are misunderstanding a fundamental point:

If all of the money ever “raided” from the Social Security trust funds was fully repaid with interest, the funds will be entirely depleted by about 2034, and thereafter the annual income from payroll taxes will be enough to pay only around 77% of the benefits due.

The SocSec trustees are assuming that all of the money will continue to be repaid with interest, as is already happening now. Payroll taxes collected haven’t been enough by themselves to cover benefits due since 2010; in 2021, for example, Social Security collected $838 billion in payroll taxes, but benefits due amounted to $993 billion. SocSec made up the shortfall out of taxes paid on benefits, interest payments on what they’ve loaned out, and redeeming some of the IOUs given to the trust funds. Circa 2034, the IOUs will have all been redeemed, and then what? (If the feds stop paying the IOUs, the benefits crunch will happen a lot earlier, but nobody really expects that.)

This is fundamentally a problem of demographics: there are now lots of retirees, and lots of retirees living longer, relative to the number of people working and paying into the funds. From the 1970s to 2008, there were around 3.3 workers for every person drawing benefits, but the retirement of the baby-boomers started a major shift in that ratio. In 2021 there were about 2.8 workers per beneficiary, and by 2033 or so there will be around 2.3. (By that point the baby-boomers will be almost fully retired, and the decline will thereafter slow, reaching around 2.1 by 2075 due to increasing longevity.)

That means some sort of “fix” to the system must happen. If changes aren’t paid to payroll taxes or how benefits are calculated (such as changes to retirement age), then remaining option is to make up the shortfall out of the federal general fund, which means raising taxes generally and/or increasing borrowing and/or slashing other federal spending, all of which have their own sets of economic and political drawbacks. The default if nobody does anything is for Social Security to pay what it can, and your benefit check will simply be short (which is I think a political non-starter).

A lot of people think that Social Security somehow saves “their” money, that the trust funds hold money earmarked for one particular person. That’s never been true; SocSec was designed as a “pay as you go” system in which the money withheld from your paycheck went directly to paying benefits for your parents and grandparents. In the 1960s the trust funds typically held about one year’s buffer, in the form of IOUs (Treasury securities); by the late 1970s and early ‘80s they held maybe three months’ buffer (that is, the trust funds held enough money to pay the benefits due over the next three months if no more taxes came in). As a result of the Social Security Reform Act of 1983, payroll taxes went up and the trust funds began swelling; by 2007 they held enough to pay about four years of benefits. That reserve has now slipped below three years and will be gone entirely in a little over a decade.

We need to make more babies.

A little, and slowly.

This is simple and easy to do, and the solution. In fact, remove the cap entirely. But you do not need to increase the benefits, mind you.

Terrible idea, and doesn’t help SocSec. In fact, IMHO, SocSec should be tax free entirely.

This is somewhat misleading. There is only one rate. It’s just that it stops being applied over a certain percentage. Most workers pay the same percent of their earnings; only the top earners pay a smaller percentage.

This also fails to take into consideration that for lower-paid workers, their benefits are greater per tax dollar spent than high earners. Social Security in general is quite progressive on the benefits side, even if the taxation side is regressive once you hit a certain point.

Yes it does. Did you not read the whole thread? I linked to a page on the Social Security website that indicated that the income tax on Social Security that was up to 50% of it that was added in the 1980s gets directed back to Social Security. The tax that was added later that taxed up to 85% is given to Medicare, and doesn’t help, but all that goes to show is that the law can be written however they want. If we increase the taxation of Social Security, there already are mechanisms in place with the IRS for them to direct money from that to whatever purpose we specify.

But you should, unless you want to overhaul the system entirely and not count the wages people earn towards what their benefit should be. It’s all very progressive right now such that the top of the wage base contributes very little to your benefits, but it’s something. If you’re going to kill the increase beyond a certain amount, why bother with the increases for the top tier of wages in the first place? I actually would prefer that SS not care how much you earn in wages, but only how many credits you earn, but the system is currently set up to care how much you had in wages, so that’s probably how it would stay if the wage base were increased or removed.

Sure, but that hurts the recipients. It’s the whole Charley Brown and the football thing- “We are gonna increase your SocSec by $10 a month, but take away $50 in taxes!!!”

Simple, you count the wages up to $150000 . It was easy to tax the wages only up to $150K wasn’t it?

The effective rate gos down as income goes up over $150,000. That’s not misleading. It is what happens. That part tends to be ignored. IMO if the public had paid attention to effective tax rates the FICA and federal income tax rate wouldn’t be what they are.

It appears I am misinformed about the “raiding” of the trust fund. However, there are ways to better fund it, as people above have mentioned.

I was mostly joking. I like to include all of the options, even if they’re not useful - in case the assumption that they’re not useful is incorrect.

And yet the original retirement age for Social Security was 65, in an era where your statement was far more often true than it is today.

Well, yes, but pushing it to 70 is a big difference for those folks.

For people who’s careers have consisted mainly of physical labor 65 is plenty old. Many end up retiring early or find themselves unable to work without qualifying for disability. The disability system is costly to the public and prone to problems so modifying that to deal with an older retirement age might be counter-productive. The practical solutions for SS survival all involve a change to taxation to properly fund it.