Things to know about Social Security at 80: Overhaul time?

Even when you have your retirement savings plan in order and understand your benefits, it is important to consider that your decisions affect more than just yourself, especially your choices about Social Security. And I am most grateful to Social Security for bringing financial security and peace of mind to my own family, my friends and neighbors, and my constituents.

Advertisement

For much of the past three decades, Social Security produced big surpluses, collecting more in taxes than it paid in benefits. But once the fund is depleted, the shortfalls are projected to be enormous. Workers pay half and employers pay the rest. That is impossible for us to say, however, for the time being, it is the third rail of politics that is approached by all very carefully.

The location, now the Roosevelt House, was the spot of the first official discussion about Social Security – which included President Roosevelt and the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet, New Yorker Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor. Every person I hear from asks me not just to protect their benefits but to keep Social Security strong for their children and their grandchildren and future generations.

Americans are living longer, so raising the retirement age makes sense. Forty percent would live in poverty without it. It also supports about 6 million children. Social Security has benefitted generations and resulted in arguably the most universally popular social program in our nation’s history. That comes to about $14,700 a year. Social Security is meant to supplement your other retirement accounts such as IRA’s and 401k’s.

CBPP’s tenth fact may be the one that surprises you the most: relatively modest changes would place Social Security on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond.

While Medicare, the health care program for seniors, has enough money in its Hospital Insurance Trust Fund to continue paying benefits at current levels until 2030, Social Security faces a more immediate danger.

In 2014, 44 percent of the state’s 65+ population would have had incomes below the poverty line if they did not receive Social Security.

There is an easy fix available, but Republicans in Congress are resisting. They see the funding crisis as an opportunity to improve a disability program that they believe is plagued by waste and abuse. Almost 60 million people receive Social Security checks each month – and not only retired workers get benefits.

This extraordinary dependency on Social Security by all but the wealthiest Americans helps to explain the political sensitivity of the program.

The numbers are beyond comprehension.

Changes to Social Security have happened before. You weren’t taxed on any wages above $3,000 ($48,700 in 2015 dollars).

Continuing to do nothing about the national debt is irresponsible. She began work for the agency in 1936, a year after the Social Security Act was signed into law. This money is not sufficiently diversified (it is invested entirely in U.S. Government Bonds) and is not taking sufficient risks to earn higher returns.

They are now valued at $2.8 trillion.

Advertisement

The group’s president, Alton Mumm said, “It’s a myth that Social Security is going to go away, all it needs is a few minor adjustments and it’ll be there for the next century”.

Sign reading