Social Security, What is it and what should it be?

May 8, 2021

Jim Berberian

In many respects Social Security has become our national pension plan. The expansion of benefits and increases in tax withholding over the years have elevated its status considerably above its humble beginnings. Once envisioned as a safety net to prevent widespread poverty among the elderly, it now represents the only pension plan providing guaranteed lifetime monthly income serving the majority of US workers.

Going forward, many people retiring in the US will not have significant sources of guaranteed lifetime income other than Social Security. So, should Social Security be our national pension plan?

The program is at a crossroads, requiring nontrivial adjustments to remain solvent. Central to engineering a “fix” is deciding whether Social Security should in substance remain the kind of social contract it has been, to what extent the social contract needs to be fundamentally changed, or perhaps that it should not be a social contract but rather is a policy experiment whose time has passed.

The article,  Social Security – What is it and what should it be?, was written by CCA member Jim Berberian.  We invite comments and discussion on the piece in our CCA Communities.