We Need to Make Social Security Hip With Millennials

Nov 30, 2018 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Survey after survey reveals that millennials are resigned to the idea that Social Security, as we know it, might not be there by the time they reach retirement age. However, Social Security is not a hot-button issue for them. Benefits seem foreign and too distant to young workers. Yet the future of Social Security hinges on energizing those millennials to be concerned about this dilemma. And the way to do this is by making the issues around fixing Social Security relatable to them.

According to a Transamerica survey, 81% of millennials polled believe Social Security would not be there for them. This is in contrast to a 2011 survey, which found that only about 50% of millennials at that time didn’t feel they would receive Social Security upon retirement. Social Security is facing an impending funding shortfall that threatens to cripple the future financial security of countless Americans.

Since millennials have demonstrated that they care deeply about social justice, equality and fairness, it seems to follow that they should care more about the future of Social Security. Millennials poll with strong support for “Medicare for all” and higher federal minimum wages, but they have not mustered the interest or the will to demand necessary improvements to the existing Social Security program. From a purely selfish perspective, they should be more motivated to protect their own financial futures—starting now.

In the case of Social Security, we need to appeal to millennials’ intuition, and create a sense of immediacy about this benefit that is not there now. The analytical approach that has focused long-term speculation simply has not worked. Employers should provide employees with annual statements highlighting how much the employer has paid into Social Security that year and over the course of their employment. This could create a greater feeling of attachment for the employee, along with a sense of ownership over their Social Security account. Another way to get millennials to care about Social Security is to expand the program into a system that could be tapped at an earlier year, designed to offset lost income after certain qualifying events, such as childbirth.

You can find the full article, written by Jamie Hopkins, professor of retirement planning at The American College of Financial Services, here.


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