Social Security is an essential part of how people make ends meet in retirement. But many policymakers worry about its ability to keep paying full benefits in the coming decades. Some, including Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) CEO Charles Schwab, have argued in the past that means-testing Social Security benefits could save the program in the long run.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, the Fool's director of investment planning, looks at the means-testing debate over Social Security. Dan notes that means-testing is consistent with Social Security's initial intent to provide a baseline minimum income for retirees, and that those with higher incomes arguably don't need its protection. But he also points out that high-income recipients don't take a huge percentage of the program's overall benefits, discussing research [opens a PDF] from the Center for Economic & Policy Research that means-testing would have to hit middle-income recipients as well as the rich in order to make a big-enough difference. Dan concludes by talking about how income taxes on Social Security benefits are already similar to means-testing and that new means-testing proposals won't do enough to safe Social Security by themselves.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.