Young Americans find it easier to believe in UFOs than in the likelihood that Social Security will be around when they retire, says a group that surveyed the nation's "Generation X."
The survey, released yesterday, tells a "chilling tale of young people convinced that the social contract between the generations has been dissolved," said the sponsoring group, Third Millennium.
The name refers to the period following the year 2000, when people in the age group sometimes called Generation X will be moving into positions of authority.
Just over one-fourth of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34 believe Social Security will still exist when they retire, compared with 46 percent who think there are UFOs.
Only 9 percent of the young people think Social Security will have the money to pay their retirement benefits.
"Despite their faith in UFOs, young people know that the solution to the Social Security funding crisis -- and the national debt crisis -- will not fall from the sky," said Richard Thau, Third Millennium executive director.
Indeed, a new draft report by the Congressional Budget Office concludes that "no easy fixes to the funding problems of the Social Security system exist."
Right now, the Social Security trust funds take in more than they spend. This year alone, CBO estimates that Social Security will collect about $58 billion more than it will pay in benefits.
But during the retirement years of the baby boomers, the generation of people born between 1946 and 1964, annual benefits will exceed receipts and the trust funds will be exhausted by 2029, unless changes are made.
The congressional budget experts conclude in their draft study that improving the investment returns of Social Security's trust funds or investing to improve overall economic growth will not solve the funding problem.
Third Millennium, based in New York, was founded in July 1993 as an advocacy and education group to raise awareness about long-term problems facing Americans and offer solutions to those problems, Thau said.
Its poll found that one-third of senior citizens think they are getting less than they deserve from Social Security, although their benefits have outstripped their contributions.
Just over half of the young people surveyed in the poll supported paying benefits based on need and making benefits 100 percent taxable for wealthy recipients.
The poll was conducted in early September and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. The organization surveyed 500 Generation Xers and 500 senior citizens.