First Person: Social Security 'Shockers' Have Me Re-thinking Retirement

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As someone with at least 30 years until full retirement, I wasn't planning on Social Security as a major income source during my retirement years. I know that the direction in which Social Security is currently heading is not a positive one; however, I did think it would be there at least in part when I reached retirement age.

However, after reading a recent article on entitled, "3 Social Security Shockers From the CBO's Latest Report", I'm not so sure this is the correct attitude to take. It appears that unless things change fast, Social Security might not be there in the amounts I thought when I reach retirement.

Understanding Timeframes

According to the CBO numbers reported in the article, Social Security spending will double over the next decade (going from just over 762 billion, to just over 1.4 trillion). The article also notes that, "The bad news from last year's CBO projection foretold the three-year shift forward in the projected collapse date of the combined Trust Fund in the 2012 Social Security Trustee's Report. This year's downgrade suggests that last year's 2033 collapse date will likely once again be revised closer -- to 2032 or perhaps even sooner.

That 2032 D-Day is less than two decades away, putting it well in the expected lifespan of typical current workers -- and even of some current retirees."

Knowing that These Timeframes are Flexible

As indicated by the above quote, that "D-Day" or when the system starts to pay out less in estimated benefits seems to be closing more rapidly than expected. The current date is less than two decades away not, and it constantly seems to move closer more quickly than expected; it never gets further away anymore, and I'm not expecting it to anytime soon. Instead, with the way the economy is going, I'm expecting the Social Security trust fund to be depleted even quicker than expected and I am planning accordingly.

Calculating Benefits

I have used the Social Security's website at to calculate my expected benefits even though I still have around three decades until I can even contemplate a full retirement. I feel it is beneficial to understand these numbers -- calculated both in today's dollars and future dollars -- to know what I should be getting, what I could be getting, and what I probably won't ever be getting.

I can then take these numbers and begin making calculations of my own to see what would happen should various changes be made to the system. One such calculation takes my total estimated amount and multiplies it by .75 (the general amount that the system estimates it will be able to pay when that "D-Day" arrives).

Throwing it All Out the Window

However, maybe most importantly, these new CBO numbers have me questioning the overall stability and reliability of the Social Security system, something that up until now, I really haven't done. Sure, I never expected to get my full estimated benefits, but now I'm questioning whether I get anything close to these estimates. In the process, I'm taking more weight off of my Social Security income expectation in retirement and putting that weight upon myself. While I've always put a large portion of retirement planning on my own shoulders, I am now planning for taking on more of the burden and may even work later in life to make up for this reduction in my estimated income.

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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.


Saletta, Chuck. "3 Social Security Shockers From the CBO's Latest Report". February 8, 2013. February 13, 2013.


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