From The Washinton Post — 

Young and old are concerned that the safety net designed to keep people from abject poverty is running out of money and may be shut down.

They aren’t wrong to worry.

Fifty-seven percent of retirees rely on Social Security as their primary source of income, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

In another Gallup survey, 51 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 said they worry “a great deal” about Social Security’s stability. One-third of adults ages 18 to 29 said they were worried, too.

I’m frequently asked by readers whether they should count on Social Security being around long enough for them to collect their benefits.

“I will soon be 62 years old, and recently heard Social Security will run out of money in 2034,” one reader wrote. “I already know two women who opted to take Social Security early so they could reap some benefits before it ran out.”

The reserves for the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund (OASI), which pays retirement and survivor benefits, will be unable to pay full benefits in 2034, according to the 2019 trustee report for the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Without a fix, OASI will have only enough continuing tax income to pay out 77 percent of scheduled payments.

The second Social Security program, the Disability Trust Fund, pays disability benefits, and it’s in slightly better shape. The fund will have enough money coming in to cover 91 percent of scheduled benefits when its reserves are depleted in 2052. That’s a substantial improvement over last year’s trustee report, which projected that disability reserves would be depleted by 2032.

The disability trust fund is healthier, in part, because of a decline in applications, which have been decreasing since 2010. The number of disabled-worker beneficiaries receiving payments has also decreased since 2014, the trustees reported.

Social Security paid benefits of nearly $989 billion last year. At the end of 2018, both programs provided benefit payments to about 63 million people: 47 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers, 6 million survivors of deceased workers and 10 million disabled workers and dependents of disabled workers, according to the trustee report.