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Encore
A blog about living in and planning for retirement

Social Security: Should Those Over 55 Be Protected?

    • I can not support this view with statistics (I don’t have them) but I am personally in favor of correct Social Security by means of adjusting COLA’s, raising age limits, raising the minimum contributions, etc. I personally believe that most baby boomers would support actions as long as there is confidence that the polices would be enacted and the sacrifice shared. I take issue that the “baby boomer” generation caused this and is somehow freeloading. The problems with Social Security (and other entitlements) have been projected, forecast and known for literally generations. What has been lacking is the political will to address them. This is not the fault of just baby boomers, but of the electorate as a whole and of the unwillingness of our government representatives and leaders to confront the problem. There are steps that can and should be taken, but that may not be acted upon because of polarized Congress not willing to compromise on taxes, spending, and policy changes.

    • Agree, otherwise it’s Baby Boomers versus their children and grandchildren — who shouldn’t pay the fine for Boomer misdeeds.

    • Any retirees who depend solely on SS or those pension benefits to survive are not only foolish but irresponsible. They should know: (1) SS is a ponzi scheme, and (2) it is unsubstanable. They should have planned accordingly.

      And if they opposed also to the change in COLA adjustment, they are selfish too.

      The newer generation of workers are going to have tougher time competing in the new international order. They have to compete with lower wage workers from developing countries, and higher skilled workers from H1-B and other legal immigrants. Their life will not be as easy as what the retirees had during their working time 20 years ago, where American’s economy was still unchallenged. So, give the younger generation a break, would you?

      disclaimer: I am over 50s.

    • First of all, last year there was no COLA because inflation was so low, so COLAs are not automatic. Second, if Social Security is reduced, the children and grandchildren of Boomers will have Grandma and Grandpa living with them instead of independently. So much for giving the younger generation a break. Third, although the current system is in fact unsustainable without changes, it is NOT a Ponzi scheme. Some changes, such as means testing and raising the age of retirement, will be needed. But changing benefits for current retirees or those soon to retire is just wrong.

    • End it! Do not Mend it! The system is a fundementally flawed generational wealth transfer program. The fact is that current retirees are reaping a high multiple of “benefits versus contributions” on the backs of the youth. To make matters so much worse, is that the earners contributing the most now to sustain the system will get the least “benefits versus contributions” in their retirement years. Futhermore, most of the so-called “reforms” will be borne by these contributors in the form of “means-testing”, higher retirement ages, tax exclusions, etc. That the Obama admin buys votes via temporary reduction in payroll taxes makes the outlook yet more bleak for these contributors. Social security — coerced confisciation empowering government and engendering generational and wealth cohort conflict.

    • To blame the Social Security fiscal woes on 2008 economic slowdown is ludicrous. The demographic effects of baby boomer retirement on social security is the most fiscally predictable, and most politically ignored, slow-motion train wreck in living memory. Whenever reasonable measures to address the issue before it becomes a crisis have been proposed, thei sponsors have been roundly demonized by irresponsible politicians engaged in cheap pandering for their next election cycle. And now that the crisis looms ever closer and more imminent, the seniors who have faithfully paid into the system all their lives are threatened.

      This should serve as a lesson to all those who blindly put their faith in the word of central planning Big Government and its ability/political willingness to fulfil the obligations of its many unsustainable promises.

    • One more thing. I for one would be willing to nullify any further government obligati to pay out to me under SS in exchange for the return of all of the money my employers and I have paid into the system, plus a modest 5% interest that could have been easily earned had it not been involuntarily confiscated but invested n a private account.

    • Shuman,

      Your request is not feasible…sorry…the absolute best scenario that you could possibly contemplate is discontinuance of the program…there is exactly 0.0000% chance that you will get your contibutions back…the best you can hope for is that the government will stop confiscating your money…and that is extremely unlikely. Happy days!

    • Social security can be improved financially by raising the entrance level by two years as well as carefully analyzing the people who “go on permanent disability”. These claimants have a whiff of fraud about them. Sure, the majority are valid, but to have 40% of costs for the fund paid for disability is a bit hard to take.

    • SSA is nothing but an income transfer. I for one am happy not to be forced to pay but would like my contributions to come to me in my IRA adjusted for inflation. That said, I think the SS trust fund is being eroded by the unprecedented increased in disability payouts. That part of the fund is almost out of cash. The government auditors instead of recommending controlling costs there have suggested to congress to raid the SS main trust fund to payout to the disability trust fund. One of my neighbors tried to enroll for disability payments but was turned own. The fraud in this area is mind blowing. People should be paid to dob in those committing fraud and be rewarded money for doing that.

    • GenXer,
      A refund has to cost considerably less than paying me full SS for 30 years after I retire in 3 years. So you are saying those of us with 50 years’ forced wealth confiscation are SOL. We get nothing – zip.

      Maybe you are right, but remember boomers are a very large voting block and there is no upper limit on voting age (at least to date – I wouldn’t put it past the government to cut that off as well).

      We should all consider this a lesson about trusting those wonderful government central planners and their grandiose promises. Especially you GenXers who still have a chance to change things before you are up a creek.

    • Do not agree at all. Why don’t you just come out and admit that this is just another side step to eliminating social security period. People 55 or older or those near retirement have saved for decades and deserve the money they trusted the goverment to give back to them. Not their fault that the government is inept atkeeping this savings intact for them.Older people still pay taxes and spend money that contibutes to the betterment of all., And if you are a statistical maven, you would know that it is next to impossible to get a job if you are over 50 worth anything. I am for smaller government, but stay out of my retirement. If you don’t think you deserve it, than you have the option not to take it.

    • The over-55 crowd should not be shielded from Social Security benefit reductions. My understanding is Social Security finances are sufficient to pay 3/4 of benefits for the foreseeable future, so that is what benefits should be cut to. Also the earnings cap is a relic of a world with a smaller range of incomes. Social Security was intended an insurance against your retirement savings disappearing. Some people have conflated it with Medicare, whose financing is much more inadequate.

    • Shuman,

      Misunderstood your age…it is a very fair deal for both you and GenXers(GenYers, etc. too) to refund your contributions plus 5% p.a. (less so for you…)

      I am afraid we have gone too far down collectivist avenue to hope for a John Galt rebellion. Collapse is our future.

    • I’m afraid that most of you miss the point that Social Security benefits not only those retired, but those whose parents and grandparents are retired. I was not forced to take my parents or my wife’s parents into our home because Social Security provided just enough for them to continue an independent existence. So to you 40-something relishing the thought of ending Social Security all I can say is be prepared to welcome your parents into your home and tell your kids (if you have any) that they should expect the same.

    • Maybe some older workers should bear some of the reduction in social security, but those older workers have counted on the current system and don’t have time/the years to make up for the shortfall of an adjustment to social security

    • Also, make people pay social security tax on all of their earned income. Current system is a give away to the rich.

    • ” … the over-55 crowd actually misbehaved. It has been very clear since the early 1990s that Social Security would need additional money to maintain current benefits. Yet, the baby boom generation, instead of raising taxes on itself, kicked the can down the road. … ”

      Cut beenfits to the retired Liberal Democrats first, as they are the ones who have resisted entitlement reform tooth & nail.

    • There is a simple solution that will make the Social Security shortfall disappear, instantly, without cutting anyone’s current or future benefits. FICA taxes are made up of two components, a Medicare tax that is based on all earnings and a Social Security tax on the first $110,100 of earnings. The solution is to leave the cap of $110,100 in place when calculating Social Security BENEFITS but to remove the cap, when calculating the TAX. We would have to call the difference something new, perhaps “PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN FEE.” Since the tax cuts enacted in recent years have largely benefited the wealthiest Americans – the 1% if you will – it is equitable and just that they contribute something back to help the other 99%, and enable our government to keeps its promise to it senior citizens.

    • Dr. Mobius,

      I am afraid most of your ilk miss the point. Taking care of our parents/ grandparents is the private citizens duty/perogative. This was commonly understood before the government intruded and seized control of the way that the generational responsibilities would be handled. Politicians enjoy the power to distribute the goodies, but we lose is morality, responsibility, accountability, and compassion. A very bad trade-off.

    • Calvin Smith,

      Comments like that convince me that we are indeed doomed…the comments are too 1)obtuse; 2)immoral; and 3)just plain sad to bother responding specifically. Suffice to say I am not your keeper, get a job, take rsponsibility for yourself…if you want other peoples wealth…1) go earn it by providing something that people want or 2) steal it directly rather than employ government thugs to do it for you.

    • Ever since Obama has become President he is turning the poor against the rich, those not on social security against those on social security, blacks against white and vice versa. For 200 years we have pulled together and treated one another with respect. I am hoping after Obama is out of office we will have a President that really cares about all of us and will work to bring us together. Boy was I wrong that a Black man would work to unite American. He has done the very opposite. In the end, it isn’t about the rich paying or the younger ones paying for those on social security paying. As a person who is on social security I believe in shared sacrifice. In the end, when we get the right President, we will pull together and make the necessary sacrifices to right this country. Despite the views of this divisive President we must all sacrifice to solve the nations problems. It isn’t just social security. It is welfare, and big pensions for those with federal jobs and the list is a mile long. Everyone will have to suffer some and the attack rhetoric agains the rich or the poor or the retired will have to stop.

    • In the 1980s, during the Reagan administration, there was a reform of Social Security in which the then young boomer generation paid more to assure the program would be there when they retired. In fact,they paid for the retirement of their parents and grandparents first. However, they cannot be blamed for kicking the can down the road- we all went along with the increases. Those now over 55 are too far along to adjust their financial planning to decreased payouts as some have suggested. And those fortunate to earn the most have paid the most into this system. It would be unfair to now penalize them a second time with means testing.

    • What’s “fair” about cutting people’s benefits. SS has a return of 3% of money we and employers paid into it. The stewards of the SS fund are not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility by investing in low-return vehicles.
      Let’s cut the returns of the bond holders and then talk about what’s “fair”.

    • One of the more interesting collection of comments on a story here in a very long time! Relatively civil overall too, which is quite a feat! I retired last year, very early (48) and am figuring SS into my future projections, but using the amount I would supposedly get at 62, but not counting on taking it until 70. Even that could end up being too optimistic, but I’ll obviously make do with whatever happens, because I won’t have a choice.

      Same thing if we did have to cut benefits or at least COLAs for current recipients. It wouldn’t be nice, it wouldn’t be easy, but sometimes you just have to do things like that to make the world work.

    • I have worked hard all of my life. paid SS for 50 years. ready to retire for health reasons….I have never asked for a hand out.. I only ask what was promised to me by the goverment.the goverment did not ask me to pay into SS they took money every pay check.. I was given no option to invest in anything else as an alternative to SS… This is like taxation with no representation. I will be forced to move in with my children if my SS are reduced or eliminated.. That said younger Americans if the goverment can do this to SS payments.. they WILL DO THIS to other programs in the future..

    • like Jesus explained I’m amazed that a person able to get paid $7451 in 4 weeks on the computer. did you read this web page (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/CcHb4

    • In the past, over 93% of all income made in the United States paid into social security. Now about 83% of total income is contributed because high wage earners stop paying in at about $108,600 (not sure of exact number this year). If contributions were restored there would be no problem.

    • @BW- I agree that there was no COLA last year, but that was a result of not cutting benefits in the years that the cost of living decreased. And people whined about it. They were estatic when SS decided not to decrease benefits due to the lower COL, but whined when they did not get an incresae. They DID (effectively) get an increase – it was just a few years early.

    • @BW- I agree that there was no COLA last year, but that was a result of not cutting benefits in the years that the cost of living decreased. And people whined about it. They were estatic when SS decided not to decrease benefits due to the lower COL, but whined when they did not get an incresae. They DID (effectively) get an increase – it was just a few years early.

    • I think only those over 55 that voted Democrat party in the last 30 or so years since Reagan/O’neill “rescued” SS should be “docked”! After all, rational Republicans have been calling for real SS reform for YEARS. Bush tried to make rational reforms in his second term. No one listened and he received no support even from his own party. There is no “Trust” fund. it is just an accounting entry invented to convince seniors (who must not think too clearly) they actually have an individual account with actual $$$ in it…That money is mostly long gone, spent by the very Democrats they voted in. I have been arguing for real reform and privatization for 40 years…Now leave me alone with my pittance of SS…And leave my 401k alone. I was able, in spite of big government tax and spend, to invest. While “of” the baby boom gen, I am not “part” of it… (Just kidding) I would be willing to make a “sacrificial” reduction in my SS IF meaningful reforms to the system were made along the lines proposed by President Bush to privatize, extend retirement age, etc. My grandchildren don’t deserve to be subject to this “Ponzi scheme” that is Social Security. Until then I’ll just repeat what was said to me by a seasoned senior, 45 years ago, “Shut-up and pay your taxes, so I can get my SS check.”

    • Although nothing is guaranteed, you should not be able to be paid more than you put into the system. Submit a net inocome statement and those that have too much according the system will forfeit SS. Get rid of the 106K cap. It won’t be a ton more money, but at least others can stop complaining about the cap.

    • @mark, lifting the cap won’t solve the problems, but it is better than the Buffet Tax. That would be an extra tax on the rich equal to 6.2% of income over 106K.

    • Wow, DorseyDean…. why don’t you keep that (spam) suggestion to yourself and REALLY make a killing (and save the rest of us from garbage on the web).

    • It is about time for those of us with no chance of a real retirement to rise up and make this system fair. Every one should feel the pain of of a recession and national debt. There is no reason tha my days of work should be caring for multiple patients my age and younger retired and me supporting them in NY and a second home in Fla while I and my fellow “younger” people have no chance of a similar future benefit. MY record retirement so far seen was a fellow who worked for 25 yrs and has been retired for 42 yrs. They need to feel the pain also.

    • I remember when Greenspan fixed Social Security back in 1982. It was part of the Reagan economic miracle.

      Maybe we can get Greenspan to fix Social Security one more time.

      Hahahahahaha…I crack myself up!

    • In the last several years those on SS have actually gotten COLAS larger than the raises many working folks (those still lucky enough to have a job)have earned. 2008, with a 5.8% COLA comes to mind. Yes, there were two years with no increase, but at least benefits weren’t cut as the cost of living actually went down during those years (and unemployment skyrocketed).

      There does need to be some shared sacrifice, and I don’t see why those over 55 (why 55, when full retirement age for SS is now 66?)should have the opportunity to participate as well. I do think that folks need to be forewarned of any potential cut in actual benefits (as opposed to cuts in COLA) at least 5 years in advance of full retirement age so that they can plan (do they retire at 66, or hang on till 70?)

      As a tax-paying boomer who’s been worried about this for at least two decades, remember that it was LBJ who first used SS funds to pay for the Viet Nam war in the 60′s. Most of the boomers were too young to have a say in that decision, and Congress has been helping itself to SS funds ever since. An increase in our SS taxes was inacted in the mid-80′s, which was supposed to help resolve this situation. The shortfall needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, but leadership in this important issue is sorely lacking.

    • Correction: in the second paragraph it should read “..I don’t see why those over 55 SHOULDN’T have the opportunity..”

      We all have to pitch in during hard times.

    • Thanks a lot guys…

      Signed: Your Children

      PS. Don’t think we won’t remember this when it comes time to put you in a home…

    • The “fix” in 1983 when I was 32 years old was a tax increase to make sure SS was solvent. The extra money has been spent every year since with an IOU put in a drawer to be “cashed in” when needed in oh, say 2016 or so. The dirty secret is there was nothing else they could do with the money, they couldn’t by stock,that would be government ownership of private companies, so they “loaned” it to the general fund at appropriate interest rate that also needs to be funded. What nonsense!! In hindsight the 1983 budget negotiation was nothing more than a tax increase to give politicians more money to spend in the present…not the future. You can’t fix a ponzi scheme…you can only end it…badly or create money out of thin air and inflate the problem away. either way…bad ending.

    • I’m thinking the majority in congress in the early ’90s were not boomers, but those of a previous generation. However, the author is correct in saying this issue has been kicked down the road for far too long.

    • I think wiseguy has the essence of it, it is a Ponzi scheme! Unfortunately, we can’t just say they should have planned better (while they should have, it doesn’t help now).

      The only positive thing I can see to do is first, and most importantly, admit that it is a ponzi scheme, then dismantle it as fairly as possible. Fair in this case means that every one (or at least every cohort) should get about the same fraction of the net present value the monies paid in would have been worth if they had been invested reasonably. I’m not talking invested by Buffet! I’d even be happy with T-Bill rate if I could get my money out. (I’m almost 60)

    • Alicia has hit the nail on the head … but.
      When I taught demography at a college in the early 1980s I raised the slow-motion train wreck implicit in the worker/retiree ratio supporting social security. The college-age student body was indignant. Congress undertook Social Security reform that shifted a few decimal points, but Alicia’s point about the baby boom generation misbehaving is off the track: it was the politicians pandering to that generation who misbehaved. Every year since then the wreck has approached but our elected (repeat: elected) officials have kicked that can down the road, and the stakes (and remedial actions required) have worsened.

    • Means testing is BS. We all pay into Social Security. Taking payouts away from people just because they saved additionally on their own is BS. SS is not supposed to be a pure tax- we all should receive something based on what we pay in…regardless if we have any other income sources.

    • Alicia Munnell is a senile drooler who contradicts herself in her article by first stating that Boomers refused to allow an increase in taxes in the 90s to make SS solvent but then later admits that SS taxes were raised and SS benefits were reduced on the boomers in 1983. The actual reduction in benefits on boomers is about 18/%. If she went back to 1983 she would discover videos of Charlie Rangel and Pat Moyihan telling retirees that they had insured SS solvency by creating a “Trust” fund to hold the increased SS taxes to guarantee that benefits would be paid for the next 75 years.Boomers shoyuld demand that Congress eliminate the deficit beginning in 2033 by gradually raising the SS wage base over the next 10 years from 110k to 160k on top 7% of workers to increase the funds collected to pay for boomers retirement and then increase the SS wage base by 5% a year.

      There will not be any reduction in SS benefits for anyone over 50 because 57% of voters are 45 or older and 19% of all Americans (56 Million), not just voters receive SS benefits. Thats too many voters to piss off. Under 50 workers may have their benefits reduced by 10% if they retire before 66.

    • This article is seriously misleading on a number of issues. First, Social Security is in no way comparable to the various state and local pension plans that have been adjusted. Second, the existence of the large trust fund is due primarily to the contributions of the baby boomers over the years as a result of the changes in the 1980s which increased the contributions. So, how is it ethically correct to now take away their benefits? Those retiring after about 2030 need to face up to the fact that their current contributions will only cover about 3/4 of their currently expected benefits. The “political” problem is to develop the acceptable combination of increased contributions and benefit cuts. With the current political situation, this will be very difficult.

    • with unemployment at 15% not the lower spin numbers.. there is a big hole in the cotributions the employer and employee make to SS.. Lets get America moving and people back to work this will help SS and do a lot of other things to bring back America..

    • SS is just another Socialist scheme gone wrong. The libs/regressives wouldn’t let Republicans fix it. Now authors like this one are using the “Fair” word to justify taking our own money. And, of course, the politicians in Washington put in a payroll tax holiday that just worsens the SS funding. Yeah, talk about fairness! Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness! NOT “fairness” and redistribution of wealth. When will people figure out that socialism never works. Look at Europe. Evidence right in front of us yet people can’t figure it out!

    • Well, Alicia, don’t forget the other side of the coin. If you are going to propose ending COLAs, that also means no annual increases in Medicare premiums (which are limited to SS increases from COLAs). So how does that fix anything? I can hear you now saying that Medicare premium increases must still be allowed, so it’ll be a double whammy to retirees. People in high paying jobs who won’t need SS to be a part of their retirement shouldn’t be the ones who make financial decisions for those who do…especially if they are not subject to being voted out of their jobs.

    • Am I the only one who sees the inherent problem with “to prevent the long-term fiscal deterioration of the pension plan”? What about preventing “the long-term fiscal deterioration of the” retirees? Government can be adjusted to run under almost any conditions. (Government didn’t go away in the 1930-1940 timespan, it kept on surviving.)

      Take away the planned income from people who can’t easily go out and get a job to fill in the shortfall (how many employers are looking for 75 year old new hires?) and you have one of two situations. Either they fall back on government to support them – and welfare is a LOT more expensive than SS – or they die. Of course the latter situation would be just fine with some of those in government (some of those who are guaranteed a very large pension even if they serve only 4 years), but killing the elderly when there are less drastic fixes isn’t acceptable to most of us.

    • My parent’s generation has benefited the most from the past 40 years of government policies and yet my generation will end up paying for it… and also their social security. awesome.

    • The country is bankrupt and living on borrowed money. This is why it may be imperative to wean the country off of federally funded social programs such as SS. It would, however, be unconscionable to cheat retirees by not including cola. Younger people can make the necessary adjustments in their spending and earning while old people cannot.

    • The win win is to allow wealthy seniors to assign their benefit to a younger person of their choice. People who don’t need or use their social security benefit could leave their money in the fund to the advantage of someone younger. More money stays in the fund for longer and continues to earn. The senior could could stop the assignment at any time or change the designee. The government is not making the decision, the individual is. It’s absolutely the “All American Choice”. No one suffers, everyone gains.

    • Instead of penalizing people already on the pension system it would make more sense to replace defined benefit plans of the future with 401k’s. Including Social Security.

    • I am 59, retired (not by choice) and will need SS benefits to survive when I am 62. Survival seems to be the key criteria for both implementing the program 70+ years ago and for making future benefit decisions. I would have no problem with implementing a means test where benefits are reduced as one’s other income increases. Some may say this is not “fair” based on what a person has contributed to the program but SS was never designed to be fair…only to help prevent seniors from falling into poverty…and such a means test would preserve that goal while helping the viability of the whole program. My real fear is….Medicare, but that’s another topic.

    • As a 67 year old retiree, I have a problem with this entire scenareo. First of all, Social Security is not an entitlement;in return for a specific promise from the government,I paid my money into this corrupt system, only to have crooked politicians rip it off for their own benefit, replacing it with worthless IOU’s. Now I should give up my bought and paid for benefits? Give me a break, take it from some wasteful political program (God knows there’s a ton of them out there) and leave us alone!

    • There are at least two issue brought to bear by the author. The first is the issue of suspending COLA’s in pension plans. The second is the issue of SS benefits and protecting the folks that are 55 and older. It is great to see such interest in the topic although I will focus on the latter. The social security trust is, arguably, able to be “pay as you go” or fully funded by the surplus plus current tax receitps, until about 2035 or about 23 years from now. After that, the tax receipts would be able to sustain about 75% of the benefits that are offered today without changing a thing. So, the press, and others, are irresponsible is suggesting that the SS trust fund is bankrupt or otherwise insolvent. So, if someone today was 55, in 23 years they would be 78 but they could not collect full SS unitl nearly age 67. Since this hypothetical person paid into SS his / her entire life, I think it would be reasonable for them to “expect” that they should be able to take out their share of the benefits. If GenX’ers, or those less than 55 today, want full benefits, then some modifications need to be made to ensure the acutarial integrity of the fund. The options are higher taxes, higher limit on paying the tax, lower benefits or some combination of the above. I say don’t “fix” the problem on the backs of the folks that made it solvent until 2035 and pull the rug out from under them at the end of the game when their is little time left to plan and react.

    • It could be argued that in the case of Social Security, the over-55 crowd actually misbehaved. It has been very clear since the early 1990s that Social Security would need additional money to maintain current benefits. Yet, the baby boom generation, instead of raising taxes on itself, kicked the can down the road. Now that many of its members are over 55, they want to foist the burden on younger generations. That does not seem fair

      Probably the most ignorant words ever written!

    • Have we considered reducing retirement benefits for congress and placing those dollars into the SS trust? Also reducing the congressional salaries by a defined amount and placing proceeds into the trust to help retire some IOU’S.It would be a positive step toward an enduring solution.Congress is the problem but most likely will not be part of the solution, since they control their salaries and retirement benefits.
      Just wishful thinking, about shared sacrifice.

    • On comment on Bill’s though on government responsibility; the government has NO fiduciary responsibility, because they specifically exempted themselves! And they can change the rules any time they want. If the money had been paid to an honest go God fiduciary we would not be in this mess (or they would be in jail for the rest of forever given the 100M+ counts of fraud they commit every year)

    • How many 55 years+ favor cutting social security? I suspect not many who depend on it will be for a reduction. They have grown old expecting to receive a benefit. Most young people do not. It would appear reasonable to change the rules on people who have time to re-adjust their retirement plans. The 55+ crowd does not have that luxury.

    • Quit picking on SS and the people that paid into it all their lives. Start picking on the FREE welfare, food stamps, SSI checks, etc. that are being doled out by just showing up. Quite paying people to have babies just to work the system. That is what is bankrupting the country. To help SS stop paying the spouse, who has not contributed anything to the system if she/he did not work and earn their way.

    • Ignorant author!

    • All reform talk seems to exempt current and near term retirees and puts the burden on the young. Structural unemployment will remain elevated going forward, so young people will start later and earn less. They will get that late start with a either a second class Soc Sec benefit or, if public sector, a 2nd class pension benefit. Not fair….Everyone needs to take a haircut!

    • Uummm, I’m 50. That means I got hit every time the formulae were adjusted since 1980. I do not have time to “readjust”, since the odds of remaining well-employed all the way to retirement are just about nil. The reason the system is in trouble is that it makes generous payouts to spouses who do not contribute to the system, and ridiculous survivors benefits for children. No one ever says that out loud. I can’t support my folks, nursing homes, hospitals, universities, and insurance companies and save at the rate I need to–(about 20% of my salary).

    • This reader believes that shared sacrifice is integral to the workings of a republican form of government during difficult times. At the same time, this reader objects to the characterization of the actions of “boomers” as “misbehaved” and “foist”. The great majority of citizens over fifty years old that this reader knows have paid their taxes and held jobs for all of their adult lives and they are a good cross-section of the citizens in their age categories. The writer’s use of pejoratives serves further to inflame passions on this matter and does no good. As a college professor widely quoted, the writer should know better than to do so! A more civil tone and recognition of the contributions of “boomers” to the Social Security system would help to keep those individuals engaged and perhaps secure their contribtion to the called-for shared sacrifice. Americans have shown that they can do anything if they pull together!

    • These silly articles that appear from time to time are from those authors with cushy jobs and banking accounts. They are all missing one basic and fundamental point. Social security IS NOT RETIREMENT! It is a SECURITY NET to prevent the weak ones from falling through the cracks of the system and into the toilet when they can no longer defend themselves. If anyone thinks that SS of 20-35k is enough to retire on, they should examine their head.

    • A security net or a wealth re-distribution plan.
      It’s going broke.
      Watch your wallet; it’s not for the childern this time.

    • When will the next obama corruption scandal hit Social Security?

    • “Uummm, I’m 50. That means I got hit every time the formulae were adjusted since 1980. I do not have time to “readjust”, since the odds of remaining well-employed all the way to retirement are just about nil.”

      Me too, the born in the early 60s group gets identified as “younger” no matter how much we age. Husband and I are eligable for SS in 10 and 12 years and want it to be there as promised. We’ll save as much as possible and pray that we can hang on to our jobs until then.

    • Alicia, you have got to be kidding when you try to play the “age warfare” card. The baby boom generation was part of several tax increases, dating back to Jimmy Carter, et. al., to put Social Security on a sound footing into the foreseeable future, at least according to the rhetoric sold by our elected representatives to the baby boomers [and others] at the time. We baby boomers accepted those tax increases under the promise that Social Security would be there for us. That was done even as we suspected that the politicians were probably speaking with forked tongues (Pinnochio noses), as they often did [and do] about how their legislation would fix the system. So we [and you] paid, I paid, and we are all still paying, and it’s still not fixed. Don’t ever say that we didn’t participate in tax increases to fix this!! Personally, I’d like to see the politicians who sold us these so-called “fixes” (starting with Jimmy Carter) be the first ones to pony up. Baby boomers also recognize that we’re all in the same boat as current workers, who also want to ensure their future. My personal favorites for fixing the system quickly and simply would be any of:

      (1) Begin raising full retirement age in stages. Thanks to medical technology, we are living longer than originally projected by F. Roosevelt’s Social Security, and the average retiree will collect for a longer period of time.
      (2) Raise the income ceiling on the cutoff for Social Security taxes. It’s currently somewhere above $100,000. Those earning greater amounts currently don’t pay more after the first $100,000 [or so] of income. Let the ceiling go higher, or remove it altogether.

      So there you have it from a “baby boomer.” Don’t say baby boomers haven’t done, or are not willing to address the issue. I’ll stop short of saying you should walk the same plank that our elected officials should for getting us into this mess. And no one, including yourself, will “push us out to sea” because of the size of our age group. We have paid and paid, and we have earned the right to collect!

    • A very narrow view. I would have thought that it would have occurred to you that retirees are already bearing a heavy burden for this folly. Interest rate have been near zero for years now and will be for several more years. Any economist would realize that with inflation of 2-3% and CDs and bonds yielding next to nothing we are in fact losing 2-3% of the buying power of our savings every year and paying tax on the interest as well. I think politicians better look somewhere else for their money, I’m in a really foul mood.

    • Alicia Munnell has been living off governement grants her entire adult career. She has a gold plated pension from Boston College. If anyone attempted to touch one dime of her pension she would be screaming bloody murder.

      You can take that to the bank.

    • I am 54, and I feel this is a reasonable idea worth exploring. Perhaps cutting the COLA in half each year, or only raising it every other year would be a more reasonable approach. Typically the paranoid slippery slope thoughts start coming up when anything like this is suggested.

      Of course, another idea would be to only adjust the COLA for those who begin retiring next year, but that probably would significantly lessen the impact. The elderly that need that cost of living increase to pay for their meds, etc. probably would suffer most. So people that have not begun to take benefits would at least get a bit of a warning and know what is coming.

      To what extent any of these ideas would help to solve the problem is unknown to me. If though it would be a substantial help, I would be willing to work another year to make up the difference in my savings.

    • Some of the folks who comment on the article do not seem to be understanding the total problem. If someone who is totally dependent upon social security for support after retirement (whether through their own fault or because of circumstances beyond their control) cannot afford to support themselves society (all of us) will have to foot the bill. Unless of course you want to support the idea of euthanasia.
      Reducing social security payments by reducing or eliminating COLA’s will not solve the ultimate problem. This will just force more people into poverty where the State (taxpayers) will have to support them through food stamps, etc.. Or, as I said, you could vote for ending their lives prematurely. I do not support euthanasia but we have some hard choices coming up no matter what.
      By the way, I also do not support giving non citizens or those who have not contributed into the system any type of social security or medicare benefits.

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