Aside from the mistake in logic—workers can’t pay into a benefit—Wender has contradicted her own description of the system’s pay-as-you-go feature. If workers are still paying into the system, which they will be, how can the system be depleted in 2033 in the manner she suggests? Indeed even in 2033—with no fixes at all from Cogress—the trustees say there will be sufficient funds to pay 75 percent of the benefits, and perhaps close to 80 percent, according to Congressional Budget Office projections. And as Baker points out, “because benefits are projected to rise through time, this would still be a larger benefit than most retirees receive today.”

Yahoo advises that its “Just Explain It” series decodes the jargon “so the stories you read become relevant and understandable and you can impress your friends at your next dinner party.” We suggest readers forget about this one and impress their friends with a good bottle of wine.

Related posts:

What a higher retirement age really means

How to measure the worth of Social Security

A dart to the AP—and a laurel

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.