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The 2035 Crisis: Public Fears Over Social Security

Written by
Sarah Aitchison
Attorney
May 29, 2024  ·  1 min read
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Social Security relies on trust funds to provide monthly retirement benefits to eligible individuals. However, due to the program’s spending exceeding its income, the trust funds’ reserves are being depleted. Without any government intervention or changes to the program, it’s projected that Social Security could face significant benefit cuts or even become insolvent.

As Social Security funds face potential depletion by 2035, the future for many seems uncertain. This study explores the breadth of public concern and what Americans are doing in response. Our recent survey of over 1,000 Americans offers key insights into the nation’s sentiment and preparedness for the possible financial adjustments ahead.

Key takeaways

  • Over 4 in 5 Americans (81%) are concerned that Social Security funds will be significantly diminished by 2035; 63% believe the funds will be completely depleted.

  • Nearly 3 in 4 Americans (73%) claim that the depletion of Social Security funds will directly impact their financial planning and retirement strategies.

  • Over 3 in 5 Americans (61%) are not confident that the current government will take effective measures to prevent the depletion of Social Security funds.

  • Nearly 2 in 3 Americans (64%) claim their voting decision for the upcoming election will have at least some relation to the candidate’s stance on Social Security.

Public concern about Social Security’s future

An infographic showing American sentiment toward social security

  • Baby boomers (92%) and Gen X (80%) are the most likely to be knowledgeable about Social Security and its financial implications for beneficiaries; millennials (77%) and Gen Z (59%) are the least likely.

  • Gen X (85%) is the most likely to be concerned that Social Security funds will be significantly diminished by 2035.

  • Millennials (70%) are the most likely to believe that Social Security funds will be completely depleted by 2035.

  • Gen X is the most likely to claim the depletion of Social Security funds will directly impact their personal financial planning and retirement strategies (81%), while Gen Z is the least likely (59%).

Top financial actions Americans plan to take to mitigate the potential impact of Social Security fund depletion generationally:

  • Millennials (59%) and Gen Z (58%) are the most likely to increase their savings contributions.

  • Baby boomers are the most likely to reduce spending to save more (48%).

  • Millennials are the most likely to increase retirement account contributions (46%).

  • Baby boomers are the most likely to work part time during retirement (37%).

  • Gen X is the most likely to adjust their retirement age (30%).

  • Gen Z is the most likely to seek financial advice (26%).

Political implications

An infographic showing American confidence in the government with regards to social security depletion.

  • Democrats are the most likely to expect the government to increase taxes for high-income earners (47%).

  • Republicans are the most likely to expect the government to increase retirement age (39%).

  • Independents are the most likely to lack confidence in the current government’s ability to take effective measures to prevent the depletion of Social Security funds (70%).

  • Gen Z is the most likely to lack confidence in the current government’s ability to take effective measures to prevent the depletion of Social Security funds (67%).

  • Baby boomers are the most likely to claim that their voting decision for the upcoming election will be at least somewhat related to the candidate’s stance on Social Security (71%).

Methodology

For this study, we surveyed 1,001 Americans about their sentiments toward Social Security funds and news regarding its depletion. Generationally, 11% of respondents reported as baby boomers, 34% as Gen X, 31% as millennials, and 23% as Gen Z.

About Atticus

Atticus is a public interest law firm that helps Americans in a crisis secure aid from the government. Through a dedicated team of lawyers and client advocates, we specialize in helping individuals claim their rightful benefits in challenging times.

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Sarah Aitchison

Attorney

Sarah is an attorney at Atticus Law, P.C. Prior to joining Atticus, she was a civil public defender in Brooklyn, NY and a business reporter in Seattle, WA. She is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law.
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