Free the Facts Explains How Time is Ticking on Social Security

Elizabeth Gregory

Last Tuesday, Free the Facts, an organization dedicated to providing young Americans with current information on government programs and policies that affect their lives, visited the University to give a presentation on Social Security.

The system is an insurance program that provides monetary benefits to retired workers, as well as to disabled people, who paid into the system prior to their retirement.

Lindsay Hayes, the program’s Executive Director, gave the talk and led the discussion that followed. She emphasized that choosing not to make policy changes to Social Security now means that the problem will be exacerbated later.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the program into law in 1935, 49 workers supplied a portion of the benefits for each retired person. Today, there are only three workers who pay into each retiree’s Social Security, according to the Free the Facts website.

Additionally, the average life expectancy used to be a lot shorter, and citizens usually died about one and a half years before they were eligible to receive benefits. Now, Americans live longer and spend a larger portion of their lives in retirement, meaning that Social Security has to provide benefits to each person for a lengthier period. 

Today, that average has been increased to an average of 12 years.

Hayes outlined five tracks toward achieving a solution, which include changing taxes or benefits, raising the retirement age, changing the cost of living adjustment or making changes that would affect specific groups of citizens and workers. 

Republicans and Democrats have different ideas about the best way to address this problem, but one thing is clear: without changes, the Social Security system will go bankrupt by 2034. Free the Facts seeks to educate young people on the issues so they can be part of helping to fix the system.

“The organization is unique because it is completely politically unbiased,” Giovanna Bonafede, a college ambassador for Free the Facts, said. “They use facts and statistics to brainstorm bipartisan solutions to very partisan issues.”

Bonafede, a senior majoring in Political Science and Spanish, helped to plan the organization’s visit to the University. Bonafede said she got involved with the organization after attending a Free the Facts event in Washington, D.C. this summer.

In addition to helping to plan the organization’s event at the University, Bonafede is also tasked with growing engagement and spreading awareness about Free the Facts’ goals.

In addition to their presentation on Social Security, Free the Facts also has policy projects on Medicare, Student Loans and Public Pensions. Hayes hopes to return to the University to give presentations on the organization’s other three projects.

According to Free the Facts website, the organization “offers presentations and leadership opportunities that enable young Americans to form their own opinions, craft policy solutions, make sound financial decisions, and meaningfully participate in civic debate.”