Social Security Benefits Could Drop 20% by 2032, Government Report Says

A third of adults don't think they'll receive any Social Security when they retire.

Dan Avery Former Writer
Dan was a writer on CNET's How-To and Thought Leadership teams. His byline has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, NBC News, Architectural Digest and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
Expertise Personal finance | Government and Policy | Consumer affairs
Dan Avery
2 min read
A Social Security card going over a cliff

Social Security will become insolvent in 2032, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

C.J. Burton/Getty Images

Social Security's future has become a hot topic again, with President Joe Biden accusing some Republicans in Congress of wanting to defund the program, which will pay out approximately $1.2 trillion in benefits this year.
A survey from Nationwide found that one in three adults over age 26 don't think that when they retire they'll see a dime of benefits from the Social Security program they've been paying into.
While politicians debate what to do with Social Security, a recent report indicates the agency will run out of full funding a year earlier than anticipated. The Congressional Budget Office's Feb. 15 Budget and Economic Outlook found that, without government intervention, the Social Security Administration trust fund will become insolvent in 2032.

Last March, the CBO predicted a "go-broke" date of 2034. In December, it revised that deadline to 2033. 
Should the trust fund be depleted, according to the CBO, the federal government would be able to pay only 75% to 80% of scheduled Social Security benefits. 

Read on: Your Social Security Questions Answered
The revised timeline can be attributed to the 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, added to beneficiaries' monthly checks for 2023, CBO Director Phillip Swagel told reporters last week.

"There was high inflation that resulted in a high COLA, and then those benefits affect the solvency of the trust fund," he said.

Not everyone agrees with the CBO's predictions: A June 2022 report by the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees set a go-broke date of 2035, one year later than the 2034 exhaustion date it announced in 2021. 

"Economic recovery from the 2020 recession has been stronger and faster than assumed in last year's reports," the committee said in its findings.

Nearly 47 million American retirees receive Social Security, 40% of whom rely solely on their benefits for income.
For more on Social Security, find out if your benefits are taxable and learn when you can expect your monthly check.