Americans Optimistic About Future Social Security Benefits

Gallup poll that shows that Americans are feeling more upbeat about future social security benefits, relative to recent years

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More Americans expect to receive Social Security when they retire, according to a recent Gallup survey. Yet, 43% of retirees currently expect that their benefits will eventually be cut. 

The new poll also found that expectations for receiving Social Security benefits vary by age among nonretirees, with 66% of those 50 and older expecting to get benefits. Only 37% of nonretirees between 30 and 49 believe they will get Social Security benefits, while 61% do not. Of the youngest adults, aged 18 to 29, 50% think they will get benefits (up from 34% in 2015), and 48% do not. That’s the most optimistic this age group has been at any point since 2000. 

Gallup noted that preserving Social Security largely called on raising payroll taxes of current workers, curbing benefits for current and/or future recipients and possibly raising the age at which retirees can receive full benefits (currently 67 years old). And while U.S. adults have typically favored raising Social Security taxes rather than curbing benefits to sustain the system long-term, they are more likely to favor tax increases now than in the past.

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Uncertainty About Maximizing Social Security Benefits

The survey showed that only 8% of respondents understood how to maximize their Social Security benefits. For example, only 13% of respondents correctly guessed their full retirement age based on their birth year. On average, they said it was 60 years of age. Generation Z and millennials thought the retirement age was 54 and 55, respectively.  Also, nearly half (49%) of adults also incorrectly believed that if they filed for Social Security early, their benefits would automatically increase once they reached their full retirement age.

Changes for 2024

On January 1, several 2024 Social Security changes are going into effect, which will impact outline how to maximize benefits and what beneficiaries will receive and how they will qualify.

  • The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2024 is 3.2%. That means recipients will see their monthly payments rise by that amount for the new year. On average, that equals more than $50 per month, per the SSA.
  • Wealthy taxpayers may see higher taxes in the new year, as the Social Security tax wage base in 2024  rises by 5.2%.
  • In 2024, you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, you are entitled to full benefits when you reach your full retirement age (FRA).
  • If you are below the FRA and still earning an income from working while collecting Social Security, the SSA will withhold $1 for every $2 above a set amount, which is $22,320 in 2024. 

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Kathryn Pomroy

For the past 18+ years, Kathryn has highlighted the humanity in personal finance by shaping stories that identify the opportunities and obstacles in managing a person's finances. All the same, she’ll jump on other equally important topics if needed. Kathryn graduated with a degree in Journalism and lives in Duluth, Minnesota. She joined Kiplinger in 2023 as a contributor.