Love it or hate it, many of us will rely on Social Security. And that’s making a lot of us very nervous.
This week, we wrote about how the latest plan to tweak Social Security is unpopular with both liberal and conservative thinkers. The story prompted tens of thousands of readers to weigh in on their hopes, fears and frustrations about the retirement safety net.
Many readers said they would like to see Congress take steps now to address the funding shortfalls that are projected in years to come.
“Fix the program now - while it's still ‘easy.’ Later changes will cost much more. We can lessen the impact to the less-wealthy recipients,” one reader wrote.
That’s not surprising, given how many readers said they will need those monthly checks in old age.
More than half of the nearly 36,000 readers who took our survey said they plan to rely on Social Security for day-to-day expenses.
Many Americans simply haven’t saved enough money to fund their retirement, especially now that the burden of saving has started shifting toward self-directed 401(k) plans and away from company pensions.
“I have my own retirement account, but it's not going to pay my total expenses. I'll need the Social Security benefits I've earned,” one reader wrote.
For others, Social Security has become a lifeline after losing other savings during the Great Recession and weak recovery.
“I lost all my money on a business that was too small to save in 2009. (unlike Wall st and GM) I only have SS to live on now,” another wrote.
For many Americans – including about 37 percent of those who took our survey – Social Security will be a key supplement to other savings.
“I'm not relying on it but it is a big share of my retirement plan. I worked and earned it! I should get the fair share my parents did!” one reader wrote.
About 10 percent of our readers were more cynical about the future of Social Security. They said they weren’t planning on getting that monthly check once they retired.
“If I get SS, great - but I'm planning and saving as if I'll never get anything from it,” one wrote.