For workers who earned average wages and retired in 1980, it took 2.8 years of receiving Social Security benefits to recover the value of their payroll taxes. For average workers who retire in 2020, how long will this take?
For average workers who retire in 2020, it will take 21.6 years of receiving Social Security benefits to recover the value of their payroll taxes. This assumes the program will have enough money to pay full benefits for this entire period, which the Social Security Administration projects it will not. Three primary reasons for Social Security's financial problems are (1) increases in life expectancy without comparable increases in the retirement age, (2) the higher birth rate of the baby boom generation compared to other generations, and (3) the increasing number of people receiving disability benefits.