Social Security is the foundation of the nation's retirement income system, helping to protect the vast majority of American workers and their families from poverty in old age. However, it is much more than a retirement program, providing millions of Americans with disability insurance and survivors' benefits. As the baby boom generation retires and given longer life spans and lower birth rates, Social Security's financing shortfall will grow. The current gap between promised and funded benefits is $3.7 trillion and is growing daily. The Chairman of the House Budget Committee asked GAO to discuss the need for Social Security reform. This testimony addresses the nature of Social Security's long-term financing problem and why it is preferable for Congress to take action sooner rather than later. This testimony also notes the broader context in which reform proposals should be considered and the criteria that GAO has recommended as a basis for analyzing any Social Security reform proposals.
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