According to a leading fiscal and economic expert who focuses on government spending and the national debt, it's one thing to talk about Social Security's problems; how it can be fixed is another discussion entirely.
The trust funds that support Social Security are expected to be depleted in 2034. While that is the same year as last year's projection, the sooner Congress can do something, the better.
"We need to make common-sense changes, including adjusting the retirement age to reflect the fact that individuals are living longer, healthier lives," recommends Romina Boccia of The Heritage Foundation. "In addition, the current cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is inaccurate and based on an index from the 1970s."
According to Boccia, there is now a much more accurate index in the form of the chained consumer price index (CPI).
"That's a change that can happen right away," she adds. "That doesn't mean any benefit cuts for anybody; just slowing the growth in excessively high benefits over time."
The other component is making sure to preserve benefits for vulnerable seniors and those already in retirement that are dependent on Social Security to get by.
"We need to make changes for younger workers, and we also need to consider changes for individuals who have greater assets for whom Social Security is not a primary source of income," Boccia continues. "That can mean changing the formula by which initial benefits are calculated, or implementing some type of a means test, which we already currently have in the system in the form of taxation of Social Security benefits, because the simple fact is that the benefits currently are unaffordable. They're unsustainable, and the program is going bankrupt."
For now, millions of Americans who rely on Social Security can expect to receive their biggest payment increase in years this January. The increase is projected to be 2.2 percent, or about $28 a month, for the average recipient.