What’s going to happen to my Social Security? That question is likely on the mind of many currently and soon-to-be retired Americans in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning election victory. During the campaign, the maverick candidate promised to “protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, without cuts.” Now that he’s on his way to the Oval Office, some are wondering whether he’ll change his tune.
Michael Korbey, an ex-lobbyist who’s heading up the Trump transition team’s Social Security effort, has been vocal about his desire to privatize the popular program, the AP reported. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan has his eye on privatizing Medicare, and there’s speculation he might propose something similar for Social Security. (Officially, Ryan wants to “preserve” Social Security, though he says the program is “not sustainable” in its current form. He has supported privatization in the past.)
All that’s enough to cause a few sleepless nights for America’s seniors, but it’s probably too soon to panic. Despite its financial challenges, Social Security is an enormously popular program. Any effort to dramatically change it – say, by having people invest their Social Security savings in private accounts – is likely to face a steep uphill battle, even in a GOP-controlled Congress.
That doesn’t mean some Social Security changes aren’t looming in the future. A variety of ideas have been floated to address projected shortfalls, including raising the amount of income subject to Social Security tax, increasing the tax itself, and increasing the retirement age. Those are changes both Democrat and Republican voters can agree on, at least according to a recent survey. Whether the government will be able to enact any of those suggested reforms is another question.
In the meantime, the Social Security Administration continues to make incremental adjustments to the program every year, including tweaking the amount of income subject to Social Security tax and adjusting benefits for inflation. Amidst all the uncertainty, let’s take a closer look at five Social Security changes we know for certain, including some people paying more in Social Security taxes.