Social Security: What Bush wants

June 3, 2005

President Bush has proposed significant reform. Here's what you should know about it.

While President Bush's Social Security reform proposal isn't final, the basic elements include:

How a personal account would work According to the president, personal retirement accounts provide ownership and control in the form of a "nest egg" for retirement that the government can't take away. (Social Security benefits can be reduced, theoretically. However, many politicians consider that action suicidal.) Personal accounts would be voluntary. Workers could "opt in" by making a one-time election to put a portion of payroll taxes into a personal retirement account. Those workers who don't choose a personal retirement account would continue to draw benefits from Social Security.

The contribution limit will be capped, at $1,000 per year in 2009. The cap will rise gradually over time-growing by $100 per year, plus the growth in the average wage-until workers are able to set aside 4 percent of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. The account will provide money for the worker's retirement in addition to the check he or she will receive from Social Security.