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Social Security August 22, 2006

Posted by j-dub in National, Politics.

I’m not close to retirement, but I’m not stupid enough to think I’m going to be able to live off of social security when I actually hit retirement.

So, I’ve been trying my best to find the latest info on the current status of the social security program in the U.S. I found some interesting, yet scary statistics on the White House website.

Let me preface by saying that some Dems have questioned these statistics, but for my money, I’d rather be safe than sorry. If the estimates are 5 or 10 years premature, that doesn’t correct the problem; it just delays it. But, here’s a good factcheck.org article giving their opinion on some of Bush’s typical rallying points.

Here are some of the stats that I pulled from this webpage on the White House website:

  • For one-third of Americans over 65, Social Security benefits constitute 90% of their total income.
  • In 1950, there were 16 workers to support every one beneficiary of Social Security.
  • Today, there are only 3.3 workers supporting every Social Security beneficiary.

Here’s the BAD news:

  • Under the current system, today’s 30-year-old worker will face a 27% benefit cut when he or she reaches normal retirement age.
  • Just 13 years from now, in 2017, the government will begin to pay out more in Social Security benefits than it collects in payroll taxes – and shortfalls then will grow larger with each passing year.
  • By the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion a year to keep the system afloat.
  • By 2033, the annual shortfall will be more than $300 billion a year.
  • By 2041, when workers in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt – unless we act now to save it.

The GOOD news is:

  • Social Security is sound for today’s seniors and for those nearing retirement.

Sorry, if I put a damper on your day. However, don’t be pessimistic. We have the power to affect change on this issue. Be sure to quiz your candidates on what they intend to do about social security and don’t count on the government to be your only means of financial stability come retirement. It sounds crazy with the way life is, but start doing whatever you can now to help yourself later.

I apologize, but after those depressing stats; I had to give a little pep talk. I hate presenting such negative information, but people need to realize that this is a REAL problem in order for it to get corrected.

President Bush has talked about privatizing the social security system. He was all over this issue last year, but this year it has taken a back seat. Or so it seems (ignore partisan angles in the article, just pick out the facts). And, judging by the page on the White House website (the one I linked you to), there have been no newsworthy updates in the past year. Maybe he’s holding off until after these upcoming November elections to pick the issue up again; I’m really not sure. Kind of weird though, considering this was supposed to be a “top priority” during his time in office.

I’m not against privatization, and I would welcome the ability to have control over MY money. I just haven’t heard enough detailed information to sell me completely, and at this point, almost anything would be worth a try considering the state of the current system (see stats above).

The last few administrations have been talking about social security reform, and not doing anything about it. I’m glad they’ve at least talked about it, which has helped to raise awareness, but talk is cheap as far as this issue is concerned. And considering Bush is on his way out and has his plate full with Iraq, and whatever else, he’ll be lucky to accomplish anything on this in his remaining time in office.

Personally, my plans for retirement are as if social security never existed. I figure that’s the smartest thing at this point. However, I’ll still be really pissed if there isn’t SOME benefit for me by the time I get to retirement. Especially considering I’ll pay into the system for over 50 years of my life.

Sorry for the length, but this is an issue that I feel should be important to everyone.

Feel free to express your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and/or vent about the social security quandary that is or isn’t (depending on your viewpoint).

PS: Here’s a link to the Social Security Website, which has benefit calculators, etc to help you with your retirement planning.



1. James M Hamilton - August 22, 2006

It’s great that you’re open-minded on the issue! So many people come at this from one partisan perspective or another. There are a number of challenges with any of the proposed changes Congress is contemplating, but not doing anything (as many seem to prefer) or relying on the economy to “grow” our way out of the problem is naive in the extreme. Visit my group’s website: http://www.forourgrandchildren.org for more info!!

2. j-dub - August 22, 2006

Thanks for the compliment.

I did a quick pass over your site and it looks like a very nice website. I’ll be sure to do a more thorough review when I get the chance. I like the fact that you keep the content up-to-date.

I really hope that others will be proactive instead of reactive with respect to the SS issue. Too many people don’t see the signs until it hits them right between the eyes.

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