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What would happen if Social Security funds run out in the United States?

According to a report, Social Security funds will run out in 2033. We explain what would happen if this scenario plays out in the United States.

Cada mes, la SSA envía pagos de hasta $914 de la Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario (SSI). Te explicamos quién la puede recibir y cómo solicitarla.
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In late March, the Social Security Board of Trustees released the annual report on the financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. These include the trust funds for Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI).

According to the report, the combined asset reserves of both the OASI and DI funds will be depleted by 2034. If Congress does not act before then, there will only be enough revenue to pay for 80% of scheduled benefits.

The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, which pays Social Security retirement and survivor benefits, will be able to pay scheduled benefits in a timely manner through 2033, with 77% of benefits payable.

What would happen if Social Security runs out in the United States?

Even if the trust fund is depleted, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will continue to collect payroll taxes from workers and their employers, allowing the program to pay most of the benefits, experts say, per a report by CBS News.

However, if the program ran out of money, there would be a trust fund deficit, so retirees could receive lower Social Security payments, affecting millions. Such cuts could prove devastating for millions of older Americans, people with disabilities, and children who receive benefits.


The system is designed to be progressive, meaning that Social Security benefits paid to low-wage workers account for a larger share of their earnings. For that reason, a cut could hit low-income Americans the hardest.

On the current trajectory, it seems very likely that the Social Security trust fund will run out of money in or around 2033. However, legislators can implement some changes to prevent that from happening. Some proposals include:

  • Increasing the retirement age to 70 years
  • Increasing the salary cap on taxes
  • Slightly increasing the payroll tax rate, which could also cover some of the solvency problems
  • Imposing higher taxes on the rich

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