Social Security Reform:

Answers to Key Questions

GAO-05-193SP: Published: May 2, 2005. Publicly Released: May 2, 2005.

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The sooner our nation acts to address Social Security's long-term financial challenges, the easier it will be to successfully meet them. Once explained, the choices we face are not difficult to understand, but they are difficult to make. They affect both how much Americans pay for Social Security and how much they receive from the program. They require changes that not only will affect us but have implications for future generations. They also are difficult because they involve deeply felt values, such as community, individualism, fairness, and human dignity. This guide tries to boil down the complexities of Social Security and the implications of reform to the basic choices we face as a nation.

This guide provides answers to questions about the most basic aspects of Social Security and reform issues in a concise and easy-to-understand format. We provide straightforward answers to how Social Security works, why it needs reform, what the basic options are, and how to assess their implications.

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