Call it insurance or whatever, my point is that they don't invest your money, they pay it out, and the same will be true when you start collecting. Recently, a "fund" of excess payments had accumulated, but it doesn't get invested, it goes to fund other government spending. I think that sucks, but complain to Reagan/Greenspan that doubled taxes which started this "fund" accumulation.
SS will be fine for 25 years, then it will be able to pay out 75% of it's claims, assuming nothing is done to fix it. Just need minor fix to get it stable at 100% of it's claims.
Income over about $100K doesn't get taxed, but then you won't get bigger payments for that either. If you're lucky and hard working enough to make over $100K, don't worry, you'll be paid more than someone that wasn't so lucky and hard working.
Some of the SS payments go to disabled people or children of dead people. Call it insurance or whatever, that's just how it works. I think it's compassionate to do this, and society is better off too.
Ponzi scheme is where you tell someone that they're investing money and they're going to get an unreasonable return. You pay off early "investors" with later investments. Geometrically grows until it collapses from its own weight.
SS has nothing to do with this. You pay in. If you get disabled you'll get paid. If you die your children will get paid. If you retire you'll get paid. No unreasonable returns are promised. Everything is above board, although complicated so many people don't understand it.
The right wingers want SS to die, so they portray it as a Ponzi Scheme to get people to be against it.
Medicare is another problem. One thing is, the Republicans passed a prescription plan but didn't provide a way to pay for it. Another thing is that medical care is getting way more expensive which is screwing up everything, but that's another issue. The right wingers want medicare to die, so I think they intentionally put in this precription "time bomb" that will go off resulting in medicare's death.