Myth No. 3: Social Security will be fine, but you won’t get it.
Americans have contradictory feelings about Social Security. On the one hand, they are resistant both to reducing benefits and to paying higher taxes themselves to fund them. On the other, nearly half of Americans don’t think they will ever see benefits paid to them.

In fact, the opposite is true. Yes, Social Security is in trouble and needs to be reformed, ideally with some combination of higher taxes, lower benefits and a later retirement age. But no matter what happens, pretty much everyone alive today will get their benefits in some form.

True, the Social Security program will not be able to pay full benefits in 2034, when it will take in less in revenue than it pays out (the “trust fund” to finance the difference is no more than an accounting device). If nothing is done, benefits will need to be cut by about 25%. It’s also true that this obligation will only grow as the population ages, exponentially so if interest rates stay high or go higher.

All that said: When push comes to shove, retirees tend to be the first ones paid. They vote, have lots of political power otherwise, and are generally sympathetic. It’s likely that younger taxpayers will shoulder the burden and make do with fewer services and less spending on other priorities. So even if many pundits remain in denial about the economics, the politics make it a pretty safe bet to plan on getting your Social Security benefits.

What it all adds up to is one of those bad news/good news stories: Too many Americans are thinking about their retirement investing all wrong. But they are probably better off than they think.

Allison Schrager is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering economics. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, she is author of “An Economist Walks Into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk.”

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