Former Treasury Official Discusses Social Security
People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits.
Former Treasury official Eugene Steuerle, who is now a fellow at the non-partisan Urban Institute, says Social Security has affected taxpayers in different ways. "If you're an average couple with both of you earning about average wages you'll probably have paid in about as much in taxes than you're going to get back in benefits. If you're a single person, middle or high income, you're probably going to pay more in taxes than you'll get back in benefits. If you're a couple with where there's only one earner, you're probably still going to get more back more in benefits than you get back in taxes."
Steuerle says there is one solution that could help . "Increasing the retirement age certainly is a solution that not only helps in terms of reducing some of the benefit payments, but it also keeps us in the taxpaying population for longer, so it allows benefits actually to be higher in the end than they would be otherwise."
But lawmakers have been weary to talk about changes to the system. "In a system that's out of balance do you want to raise taxes on your kids, or are you willing to, at least for middle-aged people, accept slightly lower benefits or maybe a little longer working life."
He says the main point is to have the system adjust as we live longer and work longer.