Social Security, the nation's largest mandatory federal program, is in financial trouble. Its costs are exceeding its revenues, and the government is tapping the program's trust fund this year to help pay benefits. In July, the program paid more than $93 billion in cash benefits to more than 65 million people: retirees, people with disabilities, and spouses, dependents and survivors. Half of older married couples and 70 percent of single seniors count on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their income. If Congress does not act, the trust fund will run dry by 2034, according to government actuaries, and benefits would have to be cut by about one-fifth. Analysts and lawmakers across the political spectrum have proposed fixes. Some advocate cutting benefits and ...

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