Social Security is an important source of income for most Americans. According to surveys conducted by Gallup, most retirees lean on their Social Security income to make ends meet. Social Security is expected to be a major source of income for nonretirees during their golden years.

Despite being our nation's most successful retirement program for more than eight decades, Social Security is in serious financial trouble. Social Security is facing a $20.4 trillion cash shortfall over the next 75 years, according to the board of trustees report.

Joe Biden delivering remarks to an outdoor crowd from behind the presidential podium.

The official White House photo was taken by the photographer.

Social Security needs to be fixed so it can thrive for many more generations and that means making the hard decision to collect more revenue or cut benefits.

President Joe Biden has called for Social Security benefits to be cut twice.

1. Biden leaves the door open to raise the full retirement age

Biden's political party wants to raise revenue for Social Security by increasing the payroll tax paid by high earning workers. When Joe Biden ran for president, he broke with his party on key issues.

The Biden plan was designed to shore up Social Security. Lawmakers have known since 1985 that Social Security wasn't going to bring in enough revenue to cover its projected payouts. Biden was open to discussing bipartisan options, such as raising the full retirement age, despite the plan calling for an increase to the maximum taxable earnings cap.

A beneficiary can receive 100% of their retired worker benefit at the full retirement age. The full retirement age was not raised after the first Social Security check in 1940. Everyone born after 1960 has a full retirement age of 67.

Raising the full retirement age would require eligible beneficiaries to wait longer to get their full monthly payouts. Increasing the full retirement age would reduce the lifetime benefits paid to a retired worker.

2. Joe Biden calls for means-testing

President Biden called for Social Security benefits to be cut more recently.

Biden advocated for benefits means-testing while speaking at an event in May of last year. Biden said that.

Paul Ryan [the former Republican speaker of the house] was correct when he did the tax code. What's the first thing he decided we had to go after? Social Security and Medicare. Now, we need to do something about Social Security and Medicare. That's the only way you can find room to pay for it. Now, I don't know a whole lot of people in the top one-tenth of 1% or top 1% [who] are relying on Social Security when they retire.

The idea of means-testing for benefits was mentioned in Biden's remarks, as well as the need to increase payroll taxation on high earners.

Social Security payouts to eligible recipients would be removed if means-testing were to take place. It would make sure that individuals and couples who don't need Social Security benefits to live comfortably would receive a reduced payouts. It is a call for benefits to be cut even though this would only affect a small percentage of beneficiaries.

A person counting a fanned assortment of cash bills in their hands.

The image came from the same source as the one above.

President Biden's four-point Social Security plan is a long shot to pass

Over time, the views of our elected officials change. President Biden's four-point plan to strengthen Social Security does not mention reducing or cutting benefits.

In no particular order, here are the four changes Biden supports.

  1. Increase payroll taxation on high earners: In 2022, all earned income between $0.01 and $147,000 is subject to Social Security's 12.4% payroll tax. However, well over $1 trillion in wages and salary above $147,000 is exempted from this tax. Biden has proposed creating a doughnut hole between the current payroll tax cap and $400,000 where earned income would remain exempt. Meanwhile, the payroll tax would be reinstated on all wages and salary above $400,000 to generate more revenue for Social Security.
  2. Boost the special minimum benefit: Biden advocates increasing the minimum monthly payout to lifetime low-earners to 125% of the federal poverty level. If this proposal were law in 2022, it would mean a special minimum benefit of $1,416/month instead of $951 for a lifetime low-earner with 30 years of coverage.
  3. Lift benefits for long-lived Social Security recipients: Biden's plan calls for the primary insurance amount (PIA) to be increased by 1% annually from ages 78 through 82, which would equate to a 5% aggregate lift to the PIA. This proposed benefit increase is designed to help aged beneficiaries cover higher expenses as they age, such as medical transportation costs.
  4. Switch the inflationary tether to the CPI-E from CPI-W: Lastly, Biden has called for the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to become Social Security's new inflationary measure. Though the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) has been the program's inflationary tether since 1975, it doesn't do a particularly good job of tracking the expenditures that matter most to seniors.

Biden's proposal doesn't have the number of votes needed to change Social Security in the Senate.

Both of America's political parties have a solution to Social Security reform, but neither is willing to compromise with their opponents. Without cooperation on Capitol Hill and from the Oval Office, Social Security appears destined to spiral towards a large benefit cut in as little as 12 years.