Social Security benefits could be cut in 15 years because of a shortfall, according to a new report.

The New York Times published a lengthy look at the nation’s Social Security system, a program experts have worried about for years as it’s been predicted that the fund that dishes out retirement money to Americans after they spent years contributing to it from their paychecks would eventually run too low.

The latest estimate is that within roughly 15 years benefits will have to be slashed by 20% because of a dwindling pile of money sitting in the fund.

“Old people not getting the Social Security checks they have been promised? That has been unthinkable in America — and I don’t think it will really happen in the end this time, because it’s just too horrible,” said Alicia Munnell, who serves as the director of Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, told the Times. “But action has to be taken to prevent it.”

Somewhere around 50% of Americans who are retired count Social Security checks as their main source of income, which means that a large chunk of the population would be seriously impacted by any cuts.

“The cuts that are being projected would be terrible for a lot of people,” Stanford economist John B. Shoven told the Times. “This needn’t happen and it shouldn’t happen, but we’ve known about these problems for a long time and they haven’t been solved. They’re getting closer.”

The Times report said more money is being paid out of the Social Security fund than is going in. Additionally, Americans are living an average of nearly 80 years.

The Times also cited a 2018 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which found that 9% of retired Americans were below the poverty line in 2017. Had the social security cuts been implemented then, the figure would have been at 39%.

Another report this week, meanwhile, found that U.S. retirees could run out of money within 10 years of when they start receiving benefits.

In some states, as much as 15% of the population is collecting Social Security.

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