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  • Writer's pictureMark Fonville, CFP®

Will Social Security Be Around When I Retire?

Will Social Security Be Around When I Retire?

For many Americans nearing retirement age, one of the biggest financial concerns is whether Social Security will still be there for them.

It's a valid question, given the program's well-publicized long-term funding challenges.

However, while the future of Social Security is not certain, understanding how the program works and its current financial status can help you plan for retirement with greater confidence.

Before reading further, be sure to download our free retirement cheat sheets to help avoid mistakes and optimize your plan for retirement.

Now, let's answer the question: Will social security be around when I retire?

Social Security Basics

Understanding who pays for social security

First, let's review the basics of how Social Security works.

Self-employed individuals pay the full 12.4% themselves. These taxes go into trust funds that are used to pay benefits to current retirees, disabled workers, and their families.

Social Security's Financial Challenges

How many workers per beneficiary?

The Social Security program is facing long-term funding shortfalls. There are a few key reasons for this:

  • Demographics: As the large baby boomer generation retires, there are fewer workers paying into the system relative to the number of beneficiaries. In 1960, there were about 5 workers for every Social Security beneficiary. Today, that ratio is around 3 to 1, and it's projected to fall to 2.3 to 1 by 2035.

  • Longer life expectancies: People are living longer, which means they're collecting benefits for a longer period.

  • Lower birth rates: Birth rates have declined, meaning there will be fewer workers paying into the system in the future.

According to the most recent Social Security Trustees report, the combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund will be depleted by 2035. At that point, ongoing tax income would be sufficient to pay about 80% of scheduled benefits.

What This Means for Your Retirement

While these projections sound alarming, it's important to understand what they really mean. Even if no changes are made to address the funding shortfall, Social Security won't disappear entirely. The taxes paid by current workers will still fund a majority of benefits.

However, relying solely on Social Security for your retirement income is generally not advisable, regardless of the program's long-term financial status.

Social Security is designed to replace only a portion of your pre-retirement income - about 40% for the average worker.

On average, social security will replace about 40% of your annual pre-retirement income.
Source: SSA.Gov

A rule of thumb is to aim for a retirement income that's 70-80% of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living. But this figure can differ depending upon your personal situation.

Regardless, this means that personal savings, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and other investments, need to play a significant role in your retirement plan.

Working with a financial advisor, like those at our firm, Covenant Wealth Advisors, can help you develop a comprehensive retirement strategy that takes into account your unique financial situation and goals.

Potential Solutions to Sustain Social Security Benefits

While the long-term challenges facing Social Security are significant, they are not insurmountable.

Policymakers have proposed various solutions, including:

  • Raising the payroll tax rate: This would increase revenue coming into the system.

  • Increasing the taxable maximum: As of 2024, wages above $168,600 are not subject to social security taxes.

  • Social Security taxes: Raising or eliminating this cap could bolster the program's finances.

  • Raising the full retirement age: The age at which you can receive full Social Security benefits is already ag 67 for those who were born in 1960 or later. Further increases could be considered.

  • Modifying the benefit formula: This could involve slowing the growth of benefits for higher earners.

Ultimately, the specific mix of changes will be up to lawmakers to decide. Many experts believe that a combination of measures will be necessary to put the program on a sustainable path.


While the long-term financial challenges facing Social Security are real, the program is not on the brink of collapse.

Even under current projections, Social Security will be able to pay a majority of promised benefits for the foreseeable future.

However, it's crucial not to rely solely on Social Security for your retirement income. Building your own savings through vehicles like 401(k)s, IRAs, and other investments is essential.

Working with an experienced financial advisor, such as those at Covenant Wealth Advisors in Richmond, Reston, and Williamsburg VA, can help you navigate the complexities of retirement planning and develop a strategy that takes into account your unique needs and goals.

With proper planning and a strategic approach to maximizing your income, you can look forward to a financially secure retirement, even in the face of uncertainty around Social Security.

Get help planning for social security and retirement by requesting a free retirement assessment today.


Disclosure: Covenant Wealth Advisors is a registered investment advisor with offices in Richmond, Reston, and Williamsburg, VA. Registration of an investment advisor does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. The views and opinions expressed in this content are as of the date of the posting, are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This content contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected. Please note that nothing in this content should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax, or legal advice. If you would like accounting, tax, or legal advice, you should consult with your own accountants or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. This article was written and edited by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional with the assistance of AI. Advice may be rendered by Covenant Wealth Advisors unless a client service agreement is in place. If used, hypothetical examples are fictitious and are only used to illustrate a specific point of view. Diversification does not guarantee against risk of loss. While this guide attempts to be as comprehensive as possible but no article can cover all aspects of retirement planning. Be sure to consult an advisor for comprehensive advice.


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