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Millennials’ Pessimism about Social Security May Be Partly Unwarranted

Here at AgingOptions, most of our clients are either in retirement or relatively close to it. Still, this recent article from Bloomberg News caught our attention. It describes the extremely negative outlook most members of today’s millennial generation (generally described as those between 18 and 29) feel toward Social Security. The surprising point of the article: experts seem to agree that, while the program definitely has its problems, those younger people paying into the system today have a reasonable expectation of getting at least partial benefits back when they reach retirement age. Their pessimism may be unwarranted.

This is important for two reasons, in our view. First, many of us have millennials in our families and we want them to feel more optimism about the future. But second and more important, millennials vote, so as we boomers age we want today’s young people to support the program that means so much to us.

How important is Social Security to today’s retirees? It shouldn’t surprise us to learn that it is vitally important. Bloomberg quotes Social Security Administration statistics that show that the program provides more than half the income for 53 percent of aging couples. For single seniors, Social Security is even more essential: nearly half of all aging seniors count on their government benefits for 90 percent or more of their income.

Sadly, though, the Bloomberg piece shows that most younger Americans have become fatalistic about ever receiving the Social Security benefits they’re presently paying for. A Pew Research study from 2014, quoted by Bloomberg, says that about half of today’s millennials expect the program to disappear by the time they hit age 67. But here’s the interesting assertion from the article: “Experts disagree about almost everything on Social Security,” says Bloomberg, but “they largely concur that, in this case, millennials are dead wrong.”

Recently the Social Security Administration released its annual trustees’ report showing among other things that the program would no longer be able to pay full benefits (unless the government steps in with a fix) beginning 2034. “But,” says Bloomberg, “the program should still be able to pay three-quarters of benefits at that time and for decades afterward, backed by a steady stream of payroll taxes from future generations.” In other words, even in a worst-case scenario, today’s millennials can expect a steady benefit, even if the amount is reduced.

One more interesting point: during this political year, many younger voters have voiced strong support for expanding Social Security benefits. In other words, even though many doubt whether the program will be there for them, they still believe in Social Security and want to see the program strengthened. The Pew survey says 61% of millennials favor either maintaining present benefit levels or increasing them. This may seem to bode well for some form of political compromise in the years ahead, because, as the Bloomberg piece makes clear, Americans seem to be increasingly dependent on Social Security for their survival in old age as traditional pensions vanish and retirement accounts become less dependable in today’s turbulent financial markets.

We raise this point because we want you to be informed about the financial and political trends that can affect you and those you love. Helping you make well-informed decisions about retirement is the centerpiece of the process we call LifePlanning. Our desire here at AgingOptions is for every client to have a LifePlan in place to guide him or her into a safe, secure, fruitful retirement, in which your assets are well protected and you never need to worry about becoming a burden to your family. A LifePlan helps you determine the best housing options for you as you age. It helps you provide for your medical insurance coverage. It includes a comprehensive legal plan and a carefully laid-out financial blueprint. And it helps you communicate all this to your loved ones so they understand your wishes.

Starting the LifePlanning process is as easy as attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab and register for the seminar of your choice. But don’t wait – spaces fill up fast. It will be a pleasure to work with you as together we plan for a brighter future in your retirement years.

(originally reported at


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