Over the last decade a steadily increasing number of Americans expect to rely on Social Security as a major source of retirement income. From Gallup:
However, nonretirees’ expectations have changed since 2007. Fewer nonretirees expect to use their home equity (down nine percentage points), individual stocks and mutual funds (down seven points), and retirement accounts (down six points) as a source of retirement income, while more expect to use Social Security (up six points).
This is to be expected. Traditional working place pensions are becoming less common. The economic downturn really hurt many individual retirement saving accounts and caused people to lose a lot of their home equity. Our social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, and in some cases, Medicaid — are the only parts of our national retirement system that have worked well through the recession.
The real crisis with Social Security is not the recession-driven decline in the Trust Fund; instead the problem is Congress hasn’t expanded it to make up for the growing failure of our private retirement instruments. With more and more people likely to rely on Social Security as their primary retirement income, we should be looking to ways to modestly increase benefits, not cut them.