Today, U.S. Senators Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) of the Special Committee on Aging heard an update on the financial footing of the Social Security benefit structure, and ways to strengthen and reform the beneficiary program for future Americans. Today, one-third of Americans 65 years and older depend on Social Security benefits to supply 90 percent of their total income.
"For a great number of Americans, Social Security offers a lifeline during retirement," said Martinez, the lead Republican on the Senate's Special Committee on Aging. "Preparing to live on a fixed income can be worrisome. Americans need to know the condition of Social Security and what it's going to take to ensure they receive their benefits when they retire. Unfortunately, unless we act, Social Security benefits are in danger. Fixing the system is long overdue."
In the 1950s, there were an estimated 16 workers paying for every Social Security beneficiary. Today, there are about three workers to support each person collecting benefits. Without reform, by 2016, the government will begin to pay out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes. By 2034, the Social Security Administration expects our nation will have almost twice as many people 65 and over than there are today (74 million seniors.) Under current law, Social Security has a total unfunded obligation of more than $10 trillion.
"It's clear the financial foundation of Social Security is growing weaker every day," said Martinez. "We must make the essential changes to the program now and protect every taxpayers' investment.