SocSec recipients generally do not like the idea that they are actually recipients of an income transfer from current workers. This was the great lie used to sell America on SocSec - that it was a pension or insurance, and you don't need some right-wing crank to tell you this, you can get it from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones,
It's easy enough to see why people believe this: it was, basically, the way the program was initially sold. And politicians ever since have found it convenient to continue this fiction. Seniors today are all convinced that the money they paid into the program during their working years was somehow saved up for them and now they're getting it back.So what harm does this little fiction cause? First off, it ensures that recipients believe they have a reasonable and valid claim to benefits - after all, isn't it what they put in? It isn't of course, but rarely will any conservator of FDR's legacy ever admit that - because it undermines the popular support for collecting the benefit. Who really wants to face up to the fact that they are living off someone elses money?
Then things get even more interesting, when progressives defend SocSec despite the incredibly regressive structure - paying benefits to middle and upper income retirees on the backs of poor to middle class workers. Any discussion of modifying SocSec to reflect the reality of 3 workers (and shrinking toward 2) supporting 1 retiree (as opposed to the 16 to 1 ratio in earlier times) is met with a rock-ribbed conservatism that would make Calvin Coolidge smile.
Just don't call SocSec a Ponzi scheme. It is much more appropriate to call it a Shell Game.