Legacy debt

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The "legacy debt" in the United States Social Security System is the difference between what the current and past cohorts of beneficiaries paid into the system to the benefits that they received.[1] The very first beneficiary was Ida May Fuller who paid only $24.75 towards Social Security and upon her death at age 100 she had collected almost $23,000 in benefits.[2]

Addressing this legacy debt is a goal for Diamond's Social Security reform plan so as to share the burden across generations.


  1. ^ Referenced in: Diamond, P. A. and P. R. Orszag (2005). "Saving Social Security." Journal of Economic Perspectives 19(2): 11-32., although this term was likely used earlier.
  2. ^ DeWitt, L. (1996). "Details of Ida May Fuller's Payroll Tax Contribution." Retrieved April 16, 2007, 2007, from http://ssa.gov/history/idapayroll.html.