What's at stake:
The fact of the matter is, Social Security may not be there for us when we retire. For workers under the age of 40, it's looking very bleak. The fund will be exhausted by 2034, only able to pay out 75% of what recipients are due. Pensions have disappeared or at best are no longer a sure thing. 10,000 retire every single day in America. The only way to shore up the Social Security benefits to cover everyone (and the generations to follow) is to raise taxes to increase contributions, raise the retirement age, or both.
This 2012 report sums it up nicely: Too many people are living too long, all the baby boomers are retiring, and things cost more than they used to.
Social Security is one of the top issues in the 2016 election.
Here's what we know about each candidate's stance.
Donald Trump plans to "save Social Security," putting a stop to the "tremendous waste, fraud and abuse" in the program, despite that being patently untrue. He opposes raising the retirement age (it is currently 66 or 67), but does note that current retirees and those close to retirement can be assured of their benefits. No further details have been given.
He has suggested that the super rich and those not in need of the safety net, like himself, should forgo the payout and allow those funds to be redistributed to others.
Hillary Clinton will "continue to guarantee dignity in retirement for future generations" by evening out the deficits in the system through raising taxes on the super rich. The income generated will fill the coffers of the plan and create an overage in preparation for the insolvency of 2034.
She also opposes raising the retirement age. Her plan includes increased benefits for widows, who are traditionally hit hardest by circumstances.
The bottom line?
We have to do better. It is foolish to think that a typical middle class family is able to fully fund a private retirement plan on stagnant wages. Generations of Americans have paid into and put faith into a system that may not be able to care for them when they need it most. The lesson for younger people is clear: Go your own way. Think of Social Security as a perk, not a safety net. Save early, save often, save as much as you can.