With Social Security in Jeopardy, How Do Americans Plan To Fund Retirement?
Social Security is an important source of retirement income for most Americans, but the program continues to come under assault because of the amount of money that goes into funding it. Last year, about one-fifth of the federal budget, or $1.2 trillion, was expected to pay for Social Security, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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This kind of outlay has made Social Security a continuing target of fiscal hawks who aim to curb federal spending. Some U.S. lawmakers want to leverage the current debt ceiling crisis to get cuts to Social Security and Medicare funding.
Meanwhile, a recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office projects that the balance in Social Security’s Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund — which helps fund retirement benefits — will be depleted by 2033. When that happens, the program will be funded solely by payroll taxes, resulting in drastically reduced monthly payments for Social Security beneficiaries.
Given these developments, it’s no surprise that many Americans plan to depend on a lot more than Social Security to fund their retirement.
Workers most often cite self-funded savings (45%) as their expected primary source of income in retirement, according to a 2022 retirement survey from Transamerica. That figure includes 32% who expect to rely on 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs, and 13% who expect to rely on other savings and investments.
A lot depends on the type of work Americans do — and if they are even working at all. Only about one in four Transamerica survey respondents (23%) expect to rely primarily on Social Security in retirement. However, that figure rises to 33% for unemployed respondents vs. 22% for those who work for an employer and 23% who are self-employed.
Most Americans plan to use a combination of private savings, Social Security and other sources to fund their retirement.
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An earlier Transamerica survey of 3,109 working U.S. adults, reported by Mediafeed.org, found that these are the most popular ways Americans plan to fund retirement. Most respondents chose a combination of methods, which is why the responses don’t add up to 100%:
- 401(k), 403(b) and IRA accounts (71% of respondents)
- Social Security (66%)
- Other savings and investments (48%)
- Work income (37%)
- Company-funded pension plan (26%)
- Home equity (18%)
- Inheritance (14%)
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