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Full Social Security benefits gone by 2034? Why is Generation X not surprised?

A new report from the Social Security and Medicare trustees might have well been subtitled “My So-Called Retirement.”

Full Social Security benefits gone by 2034? Why is Generation X not surprised?
[Photo: Drew Beamer/Unsplash]
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They’ve been saying reality bites for almost 30 years, so forgive Generation X for not being shocked that retirement will probably bite, too.

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In the wake of a new report that projected the end of full Social Security benefits by the middle of the next decade, a number of Gen Xers took to Twitter this morning to respond to the news with a collective shrug.

“Gen X gets hosed again,” went the typical tweet.

The demographic cohort is usually defined as being born between 1965 and 1980, meaning many people in this age group will hit retirement in the early and mid-2030s.

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The annual report from the Social Security and Medicare trustees revised the “depletion date” for the combined Social Security trust funds to 2034, a full year earlier than previous estimates. The change is due in large part to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the new projections, scheduled benefits would only be able to pay out at 78% unless lawmakers take steps to address the shortfall, which the report suggests they do “sooner rather than later.”

With many Gen Xers still in their peak earning years but thinking more frequently about retirement, members of this generation often express little faith in the idea that their golden years will be comfortable ones. In a recent poll from the Nationwide Retirement Institute, 83% of Gen Xers said they worry about Social Security running out of funding in their lifetimes, compared to 77% of millennials and 61% of baby boomers. Younger people, however, may simply be more reserved to the idea of a systemwide failure, since that same poll found that 47% of millennials believe they “will not get a dime” from Social Security, the highest of any age group.

Meanwhile, a Harris Poll conducted for Fast Company earlier this year found that older Gen Xers were the least likely of any age group to believe that wealth is still achievable in the United States. Between not getting rich and watching your benefits disintegrate before you’re old enough to collect them, dare we say it? Retirement does bite!

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You can check out the full report here.

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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