1 - Don't change the amounts due in accounts for those over 50, but gradually increase the age at which payments begin: every 3 years make the retirement age 6 months later until payments first begin at age 70. This will bring payments more in-tune with actual 21st Century retirement age and actual life-expectancy rates (and discard those from the middle of the last century) and therefore reduce outlays. Because it is phased-in, it allows time for workers to adjust their retirement planning accordingly. This will increase contributions to the systems and decrease outlays - greatly reducing the current projected shortfall.
3 - Gradually increase the % amount which those under age 30 may steer into their personal stocks fund.
4 - Again FOR ONLY THOSE UNDER 30: gradually (every six-12 months or so) RAISE the age at which time recipients may begin to receive 100% of their traditional Soc. Sec. payment (for example: at age 65 you can get 50% and at age 66 you can get 60%, and at 67/70%, and so on) Thgis will reduce the burden of the old system BUT ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE 356 YEARS to prepare.
This is a general/thumbnail version of a proposal; actuarily speaking - this will have to be worked out in MUCH greater detail, BUT this voluntary and gradual and partial privatization plan would work.
And: it would most benefit poorer people - they'd get something they could pass along to their kids, and most working poor cannot save enough for IRA's now; this would be their IRA and their family's ticket out of propertylessness.
Partial privatization would be a GREAT THING EVEN IF THERE WERE NO LOOMING CRISIS;THEREFORE, the debate over whether there's a crisis in 2018-2040 is IMMATERIAL.
BOTTOM-LINE: do we think that a program designed in 1935 is the best possible program for us now - 60 years later!?!?!?! Of course, it cannot be. It isn't. It is time to innovate. In fact, the time is long overdue. Privatization is sensible, too. And simple to implement - except for the politics; in other words: the only thing that stands between the imperfect present and the future are the demogogues of the Left. So far, Bush had defeated them on every issue; I believe he will win again. Justly so.