A Glimpse of What Social Security May Look Like in 2035

Few programs are leaned on more by Americans during retirement more than Social Security. Data from the Social Security Administration finds that 62% of today's aged beneficiaries rely on the program to supply at least half of their monthly income. Further, an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that more than 15 million of these aged beneficiaries are singlehandedly kept out of poverty as a result of this guaranteed monthly payment.

It's hard to argue against the program's importance with figures like that backing it up.

But the truth of the matter is that Social Security is in very real trouble and it's less than two decades away from what could be a monumental change for current and future retirees. With the understanding that the future isn't written in stone, and using estimates provided by the newly released Social Security Board of Trustees report, let's take a look at what Social Security might look like in 2035 compared to what we're familiar with today.

It'll be considerably more crowded

The first thing we'd probably notice about Social Security in 2035 is that it will cover significantly more people than it does today. Approximately 4 million baby boomers are leaving the workforce and/or becoming eligible for Social Security benefits with each passing year, pumping up the number of beneficiaries, while at the same time driving down the worker-to-beneficiary ratio.

As of 2017, there were 173.6 million covered workers, as well as 61.5 million beneficiaries covered by either the Old-Age and Survivors Trust or Disability Insurance Trust, leading to a worker-to-beneficiary ratio of 2.8-to-1, or 35 beneficiaries per 100 covered workers. By 2035, under the intermediate prediction model in the Trustees report, there are expected to be 189.6 million covered workers and 86.5 million eligible beneficiaries, which works out to a worker-to-beneficiary ratio of 2.2-to-1, or 46 beneficiaries to 100 covered workers. That's a clear strain on the program. 

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