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The future of Social Security is in the spotlight these days.  Social Security is primarily financed by payroll taxes. As long as people work, the system will never completely run out of money.

However, Social Security is facing an uncertain financial future mainly due to demographics. We're living longer and healthier lives ... and this is good news. When the Social Security program was created in 1935, a 65-year-old had an average life expectancy of 12½ more years; today, it's 17½ years - and rising.

In addition, 79 million "baby boomers" began retiring in 2008, and in another 30 years, there will be twice as many older Americans as there are today. At the same time, the number of workers paying into Social Security per beneficiary will drop from 3.3 to 2.1 in 2031. These changes will strain our Social Security system.

The issue is whether the government will have enough to pay all the benefits now promised, once most baby boomers retire and fewer workers are paying into the system. By 2041, if no changes are made, benefits will have to be cut by 22%--which is why your personal savings, and not Social Security, should be key to your retirement planning.

If you would like more information on how the Social Security program works, what benefits you may be entitled to under current law, or the critical financial issues now facing the program, call Social Security's toll-free number— 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call the toll-free TTY number-1-800-325-0778. Or you can visit their website at www.ssa.gov.