Social Security is a "hot topic" for overhaul. Social Security would be financially sound except for three problems: (1) people are living longer than the longevity tables predicted when it was made law, thus drawing more funds longer; (2) Congresses over the years tapped the Social Security Trust Fund in exchange for empty promises to repay the pilfered funds, and (3) Soecial Security was expanded to cover more than its original coverage.
"Is it safe to rely on Social Security benefits for retirement/" seems to depend on Congress' ability to either make good on past prmises to restore the pilfered funds and adjust Social Security to the new actuarial tables, or revise the system to recognize that it is not presently working soundly. The latter is the most likely path Congress will take and, while Social Security in some new form will likely still exist in the lifetimes of everyone living today, only "The Greatest Generation" of today's seniors are likely to continue to receive the current level of beneifts until they pass away. Younger Americans may be faced with the choice of staying in the system and paying in more, or opting for self-insuring the retirement nest eggs.
Until the presently unacceptable high unemployment problems are solved, the present Social Security Trust Fund is running faster and faster to insolvency as fewer people (the unemployed and their absent emplyers) pay into the system, and more and more Baby Boomers reach eligibility for their benefits.
This is one of the issues neither Congress or this year's candidates for election seem to have a concrete plan for solving.