Retirement Weekly: The government may stop issuing Social Security payments after the debt limit is hit — here’s why

by | Mar 10, 2023 | Stock Market

There’s a very real possibility the government will stop issuing Social Security payments after the debt limit is hit. Scary as that prospect is, however, the alternative might be even worse: A little-known provision of a 1996 law could be interpreted to allow the Social Security trust fund to be used not only to pay Social Security’s monthly checks but also to circumvent the debt limit and pay all the government’s otherwise overdue bills.

If that happens, any short-term relief to Social Security recipients would come with a potentially huge long-term price tag: The Social Security trust fund could be exhausted much sooner than currently projected—in just a couple of years, in fact. Read: I’ll be 60, have $95,000 in cash and no debts — I think I can retire, but financial seminars ‘say otherwise’ These dire possibilities emerge from an analysis conducted by Steve Robinson, the chief economist for The Concord Coalition, a group that describes itself as “a nonpartisan organization dedicated to educating the public and finding common sense solutions to our nation’s fiscal policy challenges.” An issue brief he wrote, entitled “Social Security’s Debt Limit Escape Clause,” is available on the group’s website. Let me hasten to add that Robinson is not advocating that the Social Security trust fund be used in this way. In an interview, he instead stressed that he wrote his issue brief because we need to be aware not on …

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