At 38 years old, the most senior Millennials may feel well acquainted with #adulting, but still distant from the idea of retirement. As for the youngest members, around 22 years old, retirement may not be on the radar at all.
But Millennials have a massive stake in securing Social Security’s future—perhaps more than the past few generations before them. Before most of them were legal adults, they were already being affected by a unique set of challenges that may make them more reliant on Social Security than their parents.
Millennial Americans reached adulthood during a time of unstable employment, wage stagnation, and record-setting student loan debt. Though they are one of the highest educated generations, their income and financial stability doesn’t reflect it. Many Millennials struggle to build substantial savings. According to Business Insider, one quarter of Millennials have no retirement savings at all, and 31% of Millennials wishing to own their own home haven’t set aside a single penny for a down payment.
These young people are living with their parents in larger numbers and failing to build wealth or any kind of nest egg. And this is not projected to significantly change in their lifetimes.
Add to this the possibility of having to take on the caregiver and provider role for their aging family members, and Millennials are looking at a precarious retirement future.
What this amounts to is a call-to-action for younger Americans to take ownership of Social Security’s future. If projections are true, for many Millennials, Social Security’s financial health will be their financial health in the next few decades.
We can’t let fighting for Social Security protections and insolvency solutions fall solely to today’s and tomorrow’s retirees. As much of a challenge as it is for them right now, all signs point to a retirement crisis that will only worsen for successive generations.
Remember: the fight for a healthy Trust Fund and adequate benefits is NOT a generational fight. It’s a fight for everyone in front of, with, and behind you. Everyone who has contributed, is contributing now, or will contribute one day has a say in keeping the Trust Fund going—without cuts.