Last updated on: 10/23/2018 | Author:

Footnotes & Sources

The background and pro and con arguments were written by staff based upon input from the following footnotes (directly referenced) and sources (used for general research and not directly referenced):

  1. Social Security Administration, “Frequently Asked Questions: Ratio of Covered Workers to Beneficiaries,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  2. “Projected Future Growth of the Older Population: By Age: 1900-2050,” Administration on Aging website, July 16, 2009
  3. Board of Trustees, Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, “The 2015 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds,”, July 22, 2015
  4. AARP/John Rother, email to, Apr. 28, 2010
  5. CNN and ORC International, “CNN/ORC Poll,” Turner Broadcasting System website, Sep. 29, 2011
  6. Aswath Damodaran, “Annual Returns on Stock, Bonds and T-bill’s: 1928 – Current,” New York University Stern School of Business website, Jan. 5, 2015
  7. Aaron Bernstein, “Social Security: Are Private Accounts a Good Idea?,”, Jan. 24, 2005
  8. Campaign for America’s Future, “Media Advisory: Former Thrift Savings Plan Director to Talk with Reporters about Problems of Privatized Social Security,” Campaign for America’s Future website, Aug. 22, 2001
  9. Social Security Administration, “Fast Facts & Figures about Social Security, 2009,” Social Security Administration website, July 2009
  10. Michael Clingman et al., “Internal Real Rates of Return under the OASDI Program for Hypothetical Workers,”, Dec. 2014
  11. Social Security Administration, “Report of the National Commission on Social Security Reform,” Social Security Administration website, Jan. 1983
  12. Mark Miller, “What’s Your Rate of Return on Social Security?,”, Oct. 18, 2012
  13. Kathleen Romig, “Social Security: What Would Happen if the Trust Funds Ran Out?,” Congressional Research Service,, Apr. 25, 2008
  14. Martin Feldstein, “Private Accounts Can Save Social Security,”, May 2, 2011
  15. Stephen Moore, “Bold Deal for Social Security,”, May 12, 2000
  16. Peter Ferrara, “A Progressive Proposal for Social Security Private Accounts,” Institute for Policy Innovation website, June 13, 2003
  17. José Piñera, “How We Privatized Social Security in Chile,” July 1, 1997
  18. Social Security Administration, “About Us,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  19. Social Security Administration, “Organizational Structure of the Social Security Administration,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  20. Courtney Baird, “Diving into the Deficit,” Committee for Economic Development website, Nov. 6, 2014
  21. Office of Management and Budget, “Historical Tables,” (accessed Aug. 28, 2015)
  22. Gallup, “Personal Finances: Social Security,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  23. Joseph E. Stiglitz et al., The Economists’ Voice: Top Economists Take on Today’s Problems, 2013
  24. Social Security Administration, “Social Security History: Supreme Court Case: Flemming vs. Nestor,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  25. Michael D. Tanner, “Is There a Right to Social Security?,”, Nov. 25, 1998
  26. George W. Bush, “Text of President Bush’s 2005 State of the Union Address,”, Feb 2, 2005
  27. President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, “Strengthening Social Security and Creating Personal Wealth for All Americans,”, Dec. 21, 2001
  28. Joseph Friedman and Herbert E. Phillips, “The Portfolio Implications of Adding Social Security Private Account Options to Ongoing Investments,” Temple University website, Mar. 2010
  29. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “CPI Inflation Calculator,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  30. Social Security Administration, “Contribution and Benefit Base,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  31. Daniel J. Mitchell, “Why Critics of Social Security Personal Retirement Accounts Are Wrong,”, Feb. 4, 2000
  32. Michael Tanner, “Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor,”, July 26, 1996
  33. Nicole Woo, “Scrapping the Social Security Payroll Tax Cap,”, May 8, 2014
  34. George W. Bush, Decision Points, 2010
  35. Richard W. Stevenson, “Bush’s Social Security Plan Is Said to Require Vast Borrowing,”, Nov. 28, 2004
  36. Barry P. Bosworth and Gary Burtless, “Privatizing Social Security: The Troubling Trade-Offs,”, Mar. 1997
  37. William A. Galston, “Why President Bush’s 2005 Social Security Initiative Failed, and What It Means for the Future of the Program,”, Sep. 2007
  38. Matt Krantz, “Markets’ Fall in 2008 Was Worst in Seven Decades,”, Jan 2, 2009
  39. National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, “The Truth about Social Security and Privatization,” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  40. US Securities and Exchange Commission, “Invest Wisely: An Introduction to Mutual Funds,”, July 2, 2008
  41. Charisse Jones, “Survey: Americans Have Big Gaps in Financial Knowledge,”, May 2, 2015
  42. Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia S. Mitchell, “Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing,”, Oct. 2006
  43. Aaron Bernstein, “Social Security,”, Jan. 23, 2005
  44. Greg Anrig, “Twelve Reasons Why Privatizing Social Security Is a Bad Idea,” Century Foundation website, Dec. 13, 2004
  45. Century Foundation, “False Promise: How Social Security Privatization Would Sting Young Adults,”, Mar. 8, 2005
  46. Dean Baker, “Cutting Our Benefits,”, Dec. 6, 2004
  47. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Financial Crimes Report to the Public: Fiscal Years 2010-2011 (October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2011),” (accessed Aug. 17, 2015)
  48. Jason Furman and Betsey Stevenson, “The Effects of Conflicted Investment Advice on Retirement Savings,”, Feb. 23, 2015
  49. Zach Carter, “Elizabeth Warren Nails GOP Financial Exec,”, July 22, 2015
  50. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), “Business: Your Money: Watchdog Focus on Young Pension Victims,”, Jan. 5, 1999
  51. Sam Dunn, “Six Scandals from the Darkest Days of an Already Murky Industry,”, June 20, 2009
  52. Mark Rice-Oxley and Jennifer Ross, “In Britain and Chile, Lessons for Revamping Social Security,”, Mar. 14, 2005
  53. Robert Genetski, “Administration Costs and the Relative Efficiency of Public and Private Social Security Systems,”, Mar. 9, 1999
  54. Board of Trustees, Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, “The 2014 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds,”, July 28, 2014
  55. Christian E. Weller and Edith Rasell, “The Perils of Privatization: Bush’s Lethal Plan for Social Security,” Economic Policy Institute website, May 1, 2000
  56. Congressional Budget Office, “Social Security Policy Options,”, July 2010
  57. Steve Vernon, “Does Congress Raid Social Security?,”, Oct. 11, 2012
  58. Becca Aaronson, “How Privatized Social Security Works in Galveston,”, Sep. 17, 2011
  59. Vito Tanzi, Government versus Markets: The Changing Economic Role of the State, 2011
  60. John Zogby, “Public Opinion and Private Accounts: Measuring Risk and Confidence in Rethinking Social Security,” Social Security and Its Discontents: Perspectives on Choice, Ed. Michael Tanner, 2004
  61. Social Security Administration, “FAQs,” (accessed Aug. 18, 2015)
  62. Social Security Administration, “Social Insurance Programs,” (accessed Aug. 18, 2015)
  63. Social Security Administration, “Historical Background and Development of Social Security,” (accessed Aug. 18, 2015)
  64. Jagadeesh Gokhale, “Social Security Reform: Does Privatization Still Make Sense?,” Harvard Journal on Legislation, 2013
  65. Brendan Cushing-Daniels and Richard W. Johnson, “Employer-Sponsored Pensions: A Primer,” Urban Institute website, Jan. 2008
  66. Social Security Administration, “Social Security Basic Facts,”, Apr. 2, 2014
  67. Social Security Administration, “Contribution and Benefit Base,” (accessed Aug. 18, 2015)
  68. Social Security Administration, “Report of the 1994-1996 Advisory Council on Social Security: Volume I: Findings and Recommendations,”, Jan. 1997
  69. Alliance for Aging Research, “Preparing for the Silver Tsunami,”, July 1, 2006
  70. Elizabeth Arias, “National Vital Statistics Reports: United States Life Tables, 2010,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Nov. 6, 2014
  71. Stephen C. Goss, “The Future Financial Status of the Social Security Program,”, 2010
  72. Steven Pearlstein and Spencer Rich, “Social Security Proposals May Come up Short, Create New Problems,”, Jan. 8, 1997
  73. Don Rich, “Bush’s Fiscal Policy: The Short and the Long of It,” A Bird in the Bush: Failed Policies of the George W. Bush Administration, Ed. Dowling Campbell, 2005
  74. Kathryn L. Moore, “Partial Privatization of Social Security: Assessing Its Effect on Women, Minorities, and Lower-Income Workers,” Missouri Law Review, Spring 2000
  75. Steven Gillon, “The Pact between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich,”, May 29, 2008
  76. George W. Bush, “George W. Bush on Social Security” (speech excerpts), (accessed Aug. 18, 2015)
  77. Peter Ferrara, “How George W. Bush Lost Personal Accounts for Social Security,”, Apr. 7, 2011
  78. History Channel, “This Day in History: George W. Bush Forms Commission on Social Security,” (accessed Aug. 18, 2015)
  79. Laura Meckler, “Key Seniors Association Pivots on Benefit Cut,”, June 17, 2011
  80. Brain Dakss, “AARP’s Clout, and Social Security,”, Aug. 26, 2005
  81. Jim Drinkard, “Poll: Social Security Plan Support Drops,”, Feb. 28, 2005
  82. Brad Plumer, “Ryan Supported Social Security Privatization in 2005. What Was That Again?,”, Oct. 12, 2012
  83. Jamie Hopkins, “Congress Proposes Three Changes to Social Security That Make Sense,”, Oct. 29, 2014
  84. Martha M. Hamilton, “How You Would Fix Social Security: Tax Higher Earnings,”, Oct. 27, 2014
  85. Emily Brandon, “5 Potential Social Security Fixes,”, Nov. 14, 2014
  86. Jeffrey M. Jones, “More U.S. Nonretirees Expect to Rely on Social Security,”, Apr. 29, 2015
  87. Janet Novack, “Gallup Poll: Workers Counting on Social Security More Than in 15 Years,”, Apr. 29, 2015
  88. Pew Research, “Millennials in Adulthood: Chapter 2: Generations and Issues,”, Mar. 7, 2014
  89. Michael Hiltzik, “You Really Want to Privatize Social Security in THIS Market?,”, Aug. 24, 2015
  90. Social Security Administration, “FY 2016 Budget Overview,” (accessed Aug. 28, 2015)
  91. Thornburg Investment Management, “A Study of Real Real Returns,”, Aug. 2015
  92. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?,”, Oct. 4, 2017
  93. Peter J. Ferrara and Michael Tanner, A New Deal for Social Security, 1998


“The 2009 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds,” Social Security Administration website, 2009

Statistical Supplement, 2008,” Social Security website, Mar. 2009

“Compilation of the Social Security Laws,”, Jan. 1, 2009

Current Social Security System Is Unsustainable in the Long Run,” Social Security Administration website, Aug. 2009

Peter A. Diamond and Peter R. Orszag, “Reducing Benefits and Subsidizing Individual Accounts: An Analysis of the Plans Proposed by the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security,” Century Foundation website, June 2002

“In-Depth Research: Legislative History: Summary of P.L. 98-21, (H.R. 1900) Social Security Amendments of 1983-Signed on April 20, 1983,” Social Security website, Nov. 26, 1984

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., “Can Obama Make Government Solvent?” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 21, 2009

“Mid-Session Review: Budget of the U.S. Government,” Office of Management and Budget website, 2009

“Myths and Realities about Social Security and Privatization,” National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare website, Feb. 2008

Orlo Nichols, Michael Clingman, Kyle Burkhalter, Alice Wade, and Chris Chaplain, “Actuarial Note: Internal Real Rates of Return Under the OASDI Program for Hypothetical Workers,” Social Security Administration website, Apr. 2009

Rudolph G. Penner, “Taxes and the Budget: What Does It Mean for a Government Program to Be ‘Off-Budget’?,”, Dec. 13, 2007

Libby Perl, “False Promise: How Social Security Privatization Would Sting Young Adults,” Century Foundation website, Mar. 9, 2005

“Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website, Mar. 11, 2015

“Preparing for the Silver Tsunami,” Alliance for Aging Research website, Summer 2006

“Press Office Fact Sheet: Social Security Basic Facts,” Social Security Administration website, Aug. 5, 2009

“Project on Social Security Choice: Quick Fact Archive,” Cato Institute website (accessed Oct. 23, 2009)

“Prompt Passage of Economic Recovery Act Payment for 2010 Needed,” News Release, Social Security website, Oct. 15, 2009

“Public Hearing on Target Date Funds and Other Similar Investment Options,” US Security and Exchanges Commission website, July 17, 2009

“Retirement Life: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Social Security’s Future,” (accessed Nov. 6, 2009)

Charles E. Rounds, Jr., “Property Rights: The Hidden Issue of Social Security Reform,” Cato Institute website, Apr. 19, 2000

Social Security Board of Trustees: Economic Downturn Leads to Worsening of Long-Range Financing Outlook,” Social Security Administration website, May 12, 2009

Social Security Reform: The Nature of the Problem,” Issue Brief No. 1, US Treasury Department website, Sep. 24, 2007

“Social Security Reform: Work Incentives,” Issue Brief No. 6, US Treasury Department website (accessed Nov. 11, 2009)

“SSA’s Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008,” Social Security Administration website, 2008

“Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs: A Summary of the 2009 Annual Reports,” Social Security Administration website, May 12, 2009

Kathleen S. Swendiman and Thomas J. Nicola, “Social Security Reform: Legal Analysis of Social Security Benefit Entitlement Issues,” Congressional Research Service,, Jan. 31, 2008

Michael Tanner, “The Better Deal: Estimating Rates of Return under a System of Individual Accounts,” Cato Institute website, Oct. 28, 2003

Adair Turner, Jeannie Drake, and John Hills, “A New Pension Settlement for the Twenty-first Century,”, 2005

US Supreme Court Case, Flemming v. Nestor, 1960