What's Going on with Social Security — and How Concerned Should You Be?

Congress has just 10 years to fix Social Security.

A man moving a giant clock's hands in front of a Social Security card.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Darlene Friel was 14, her father died. Soon, her grandparents received monthly checks for Darlene as part of the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program, the formal name of Social Security. 

Friel collected about $500 a month until she graduated from high school at 18. Today, at 53, the Absecon, N.J., office manager worries about getting by when she is too old to work. "I fear the only Social Security money I will ever collect was after dad died," she says. 

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David Cay Johnston is a best-selling author and investigative journalist who for 13 years reported for The New York Times. He also reported for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times and other papers. Johnston is a specialist in economics and tax issues. He won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize. He teaches at Syracuse University College of Law.