Presidential candidates from the two major political parties have yet to present detailed plans for how they will address Social Security's shortfall.
Hillary Clinton said she won't cut Social Security benefits and will expand the program, especially for widows and people who have left the workforce to take care of children, spouses or relatives.
She plans to ask "the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system," according to her campaign website.
Currently, earnings up to $118,500 are taxed for Social Security benefits. Eliminating the cap this year would mean the trust fund reserves would be depleted in 2055 instead of 2034, according to estimates from Karen Smith, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
Clinton opposes "any attempts to gamble seniors' retirement security on the stock market through privatization." However, investing a portion of Social Security's trust fund assets in stocks would likely reduce the need for higher payroll taxes without disrupting the capital markets, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Donald Trump has said he wants to preserve Social Security, saying the key to do so is to have "an economy that is robust and growing."
Stronger economic growth may delay Social Security's insolvency, but it would not fix its underlying fiscal problems, according to Smith's research.
So what would have a big impact on Social Security's fiscal standing if you don't cut benefits? Raising payroll taxes. Smith found that increasing payroll taxes by 3 percentage points from 12.4 percent — half paid by employers and half paid by employees — to 15.4 percent would make Social Security reserves last at least 53 years longer, or until 2087.
Few politicians are proposing that fix for future generations.