June 18, 2012

"Forced to Early Social Security, Unemployed Pay a Steep Price."

This is a front-page NYT story that seems like it will speak generally about many people choosing early retirement over continuing to search for employment, but it concentrates on one woman, which — for me, least — invites the reader to examine and critique this one woman's choices. Unless she represents most people who go the early-retirement route, the headline is meaningless.

Clare Keany has chosen to retire at age 62 in Palm Springs, California on $1,082 a month in Social Security. An immigrant from Britain, she worked for "nearly three decades" in the United States and was earning $64,000 a year when she lost her job. And she blew "the last of her savings" on a $19,000 mobile home and proceeds to pay $336 a month to park it in Palm Springs.

We're told she's youthful and energetic and doesn't like "living like this." But she was "Forced...."

I don't want to be too critical of this one individual. My problem is with the NYT. I know this is one way they write articles, and I myself have been the one woman in a NYT article. But what do we know when we know what happened to one person?

150 comments:

CWJ said...

Not only "one woman," but the same woman multiple stories. I swear I've read about this same woman recently in a different story. That story too held her up as an exemplar of a wider group.

David said...

We know what happened to that person to the extent the NYT wants us to know.

We wonder why she has no savings after a decent job for many years.

We wonder why she can not get a job right now.

We wonder how NYT picked her.

And then, if we are smart, we ignore the article because it is meaningless.

Chip S. said...

Her name isn't Mrs. Greg Packer, is it?

David said...

I took social security at 62 because I had been diagnosed with leukemia that year. Whether that was an optimum financial decision is still uncertain. If I die within the next few years it still will have been a good move, If I live longer it will have cost me.

You make choices based on the way you see things at the time and then you live with the choices. BFD,

Tim said...

"But what do we know when we know what happened to one person?"

The New York Times, knowing its readership so well, knows the anecdotal story of one woman, one man, or one child, as before so many countless times, is enough to drive wholesale policy changes.

Tim said...

"And then, if we are smart, we ignore the article because it is meaningless."

Smarter still to ignore the New York Times.

Shanna said...

I agree, when they focus on a person it's time to critique.

Clearly, this lady should have saved more over her lifetime than 19k (or did she use the rest of her savings on other stuff before she bought the motor home?)

336 a month doesn't sound too bad for a living situation, though.

Chip S. said...

This article is stupid even by the low standards of the NYT. Sayeth the Times:

Drawing Social Security early has repercussions that will be hard to overcome even if the economy — and her work prospects — improve.

Had this reporter gone to the trouble of a simple google search, a research paper with the following conclusion would have turned up right away:

In the case of a single Social Security participant who is risk averse as regards the consequence of dying before reaching breakeven death age, therefore, it follows that he or she would be well advised to initiate benefits at the earliest age at which she or he would not be subject to earned income tax penalties.

The reason for this is very simple: the difference b/w the monthly SS payment starting at 62 and the payment starting at 65 is set so as to make the two actuarially equivalent. Starting to collect at 62 avoids the gamble that the recipient will survive until age 65.

ndspinelli said...

I believe the smart money is on collecting social security as early as possible. All ponzi schemes eventually implode, get what you can.

rhhardin said...

By collecting four years shy of her full retirement age, Ms. Keany will receive a reduced monthly benefit for the rest of her life.

She also collects for four more years than if she waited until full retirement age.

I think it more or less averages out to the same average amount over an average lifespan.

Although: if you think you'll live a long time, or want SS only as insurance against outliving your savings, you're better off waiting until age 70 to start receiving SS, whether you're retired or not. It pays more per month the longer you wait, up to 70.

I think 6% per year increase.

Quayle said...

We know that the woman was a cherry, and may have been picked to skew people's perception on a point of interest to the Times.

Now, whether this woman sits in the belly of the bell curve, or out on its farthermost fringe, is never disclosed by the Times.

It's called being dishonest in your appeal to statistics.

ndspinelli said...

ChipS, you would be a great gambler.

Erika said...

NPR does the same thing. One of the reasons I don't listen much anymore. For those of us who like to combine thinking with feeling, one is left with nothing but, "Sure, but why..." and "Well, right, but couldn't you have...." and a general sense of annoyance instead of sympathy for the subject of the sob story.

AllenS said...

$1,082 a month in Social Security. An immigrant from Britain, she worked for "nearly three decades" in the United States and was earning $64,000 a year when she lost her job.

Something doesn't seem right about these numbers, although I don't know what she made before the $64,000 a year.

I worked and paid into Social Security from 1963 to 1999 and never made more than $38,500, and that was my last full year of work.

I retired/quit/was fired when I was only 52, started receiving my Social Security when I turned 62, and was drawing (at the time) $1,469 a month.

jimbino said...

Using a vignette is a rhetorical device that makes the article more interesting. Who wants to look at a bunch of stats and charts?

Chip S. said...

ndspinelli, excellent point about getting out early from a sure long-term loser.

It generalizes way beyond SS, too!

Richard Dolan said...

"But what do we know when we know what happened to one person?"

Well, we know what the NYT writer thinks is the story of what happened to one person. But the real point of these stories is not in the knowing but in the feeling. It's a play on the emotions, just as it is during the State of the Union address and other occasions when a particular individual is help up as a model, or a cautionary tale, or for some other purpose. Same with a lot of movies too -- the NYT story is a movie-on-the-page, playing with emotions more than reasons.

rhhardin said...

Remember the idea isn't to get the greatest amount of money from the government, but to make retirement as easy as possible.

The chief worry in retirement is a long life, and outliving your savings.

The larger monthly payment from waiting until 70 reduces that worry as much as possible. If you live a long life, your checks will be a lot bigger than if you'd started early.

If you don't live a long life, you won't care.

CWJ said...

A little research shows that this story is at least a week old. Ann didn't provide any context so I had no idea it wasn't today's news. But I'm curious why Ann chose an older story about which to blog today?

MadisonMan said...

If you can't find a job, you can always start a business. Seems like she has a marketable skill.

I wonder if she could find a job in NoDak.

Hagar said...

Allen S. is right. Something is not right about these numbers. As always with the NYT, you need to be even more careful about what they are not telling you.

bgates said...

But what do we know when we know what happened to one person?

She might not be one person. She could be a composite of half a dozen real women, plus thousands more women they just made up.

Jim said...

"But what do we know when we know what happened to one person?"

We know that we need to give Obama four more years to fix this mess.

Chip S. said...

The chief worry in retirement is a long life, and outliving your savings.

I'm sure you're aware that SS is an indexed annuity.

Unless you postpone collecting SS benefits by postponing your retirement, then you're most definitely going to deplete your savings by waiting until 70 to start collecting SS.

And if you're simply saying that it's better to delay retirement until 70, well that seems to beg the question.

A better headline for this article would've been, "Woman Whose Misfortune Is Offset by Social Safety Net Questions Safety Net".

lgv said...

Her name isn't Mrs. Greg Packer, is it?

Very good.

I know several people who have done the same thing. They lost their job. No one wants to hire them at age 62+ or even 50+. They finally gave up and did the only rational thing, take the social security and adjust accordingly.

Maybe she makes a lousy poster child for the issue, because there's too many other issues popping up, I do think it is happening. I don't think it's a female thing. I don't think it's as bad a thing as they make it out to have to take SS earlier than planned. It's just the reality of today's work force.

The real story is age discrimination. I feel sorry for anyone over 50 who is out there pounding the pavement for a job.

Amy said...

She's Julia!

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robt C said...

When I was 61 I ran an Excel spreadsheet with assumptions every way from Sunday regarding inflation rates, etc. and in every scenario it made sense to start taking SS at 62. The four extra years of payments took 20 years to recover if starting at 66. I told my wife that if I lived to be 85 to kick me for having made a mistake 23 years earlier.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

time to critique.

This woman is a moron.

1. She is trying to 'retire' in California and in one of the most expensive places to live. She could have a DOUBLE wide in a park in a elsewhere at less than half the cost.

2. She thinks she is hot stuff and over qualified. Sorry honey. You ARE qualified for a burger flipping job or something else if you want one and can deign to lower yourself. No one wants to hire a stuck up snob no matter what age they are.

3. Oh boo hoo....she had to cut back of fresh fruits and vegetables. (I don't believe that anyway) BUT...if you cut back on your wine and flying around all over the US, you can buy a strawberry or orange or something. They are not that expensive AND they grow them right there in Cal-i-forn-i-ay.

Quit whining and if you MUST hang out in Palm Springs, and you have a "pixie haircut and crinkling smile" why don't you find a sugar daddy and latch onto his life since you think you have wasted your own?

Rusty said...

Oh. My. God! Don't just stand there! Somebody help this poor woman!
Quick! Throw some more tax money at her!

tim in vermont said...

It must be an important story if the NYT saw fit to print it.

But really, I can't see how this woman's predicament is so bad. She can pay her bills. She could certainly have used the money from the 8 hrs a week job, and if she is as good a worker as she says, she would likely be offered more over time.

Unemployment sucks. Restraint on economic growth has a high human cost. At least she is not contributing too much to global warming!

This is how the global warming fanatics would have most of us live.

AJ Lynch said...

But President Obama said the private sector is doing fine!

elkh1 said...

What we know of the one woman is she is smart. Who knows how much she could receive when and if she reaches 65? The amount of soc sec one could receive depends solely on the politicians' say-so.

Blowing $19,000 on a mobile home is smart too. If she rents a "stationary" apt. she will pay more, and needs a car to go places, may end up living in her car which she is doing now in less discomfort. She pays $336 parking her home, has $746 to live on.

Assuming she works for $8.00 an hr., she will have $320 per week san FICA, Medicare, state taxes, bus fares or gases to go to work. She is not better off. Now she has time to relax and travel with her home like a little snail. Not too shabby, yes?

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AJ Lynch said...

But seriously, this lady's story is a fair and accurate depiction of what is happening to millions of middle class Americans in this recession.

While the big class of lazy asses [20-30 million of them] have perfected their schemes to keep those govt benefit checks coming.

Shanna said...

When I was 61 I ran an Excel spreadsheet with assumptions every way from Sunday regarding inflation rates, etc. and in every scenario it made sense to start taking SS at 62.

At one point, I heard that if you took ss at 62, you could pay it back at 67 and go back on at the higher rate. Not sure if that is still true. But if you have the means to save it, it would be a good hedge against early death causing you to lose all SS.

edutcher said...

Essentially what happened to me*.

This is why real unemployment is up in the low 20s. A lot of older people who were laid off retired, figuring they couldn't find a new place in their old field.

(how much they're not counted in workforce participation would be interesting to know)

* The Blonde, also.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I believe the smart money is on collecting social security as early as possible

Yep. Cost benefit analysis says so for me as well.

I started collecting this year. My hubby bought a second business and I was sick to death of the financial advisory biz and of most of my clients. Decided to 'retire' last year (Jan 1, 2011..free at last) and devote myself full time to being the bookkeeper for the businesses (no salary). I am a full time housewife, gardener, bookkeeper, volunteer at several community organizations and am LOVING it. If I wanted a job, I could find one. I'm not too proud to wait tables, do dishes, clean houses, clerk at a convenience store, even if I AM over qualified. LOL.

To wait to collect a couple of extra hundred dollars doesn't pencil out IMH

@ edcutcher. I don't count in the statistics either. Since I was self employed and didn't collect unemployment while waiting to collect social security. I don't exist in the government statistics.

Michael K said...

Nobody has mentioned the role of Medicare in this scenario. Another reason for choosing the take SS at age 62 is the availability of Medicare.

Also, the reason why unemployment is not higher (like the real rate of 20%) is that many younger unemployed folks are filing for SS as disabled. The numbers of beneficiaries as disabled has climbed very rapidly in the past 4 years. This accelerates the decline of Social Security viability and is not being discussed.

AJ Lynch said...

I don't think you can't get Medicare until age 65 unless you are on Soc Sec disability.

PatCA said...

The numbers don't seem right to me either. $1K a month? No.

I do see how she could have spent her savings down looking for a job. It takes a while to have it really sink in that nobody will hire you. Nobody.

She maybe should have settled in Texas or North Dakota, not California, or gotten a roommate! And wait till she gets her first air conditioning bill in the 110 degree summer.

Chip S. said...

The numbers don't seem right to me either. $1K a month? No.

Maybe most of her $64,000 income consisted of unreported earnings.

Carol said...

This is no different from the hundreds of homedebtor stories we've all seen by now. In every one, you can see what they did wrong - the stupidity, the overconfidence, the total lack of planning for contingencies.

I still can't muster up the sympathy. But I guess they'd just classify me as "lacking empathy" or some shit.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The numbers don't seem right to me either. $1K a month? No

Do you think that is too much?? Too little?? It seems about right to me after 30 years of working and assuming she didn't always make the salary (64K) she was getting at retirement age.

She COULD get a job. She is just being too picky.

Carol said...

Oh and Mike K, I don't think you can get on Medicare at 62, unless you were already on SSD or SSI and have waited out the two year waiting period first.

Medicare kicks in at 65. I can't retire until 66 so none of these match up well. But whatever

AJ Lynch said...

The average Soc sec recipient gets about $1,100 per month.

Bender said...

Those of us younger people who, instead of receiving $1,082 a month, are likely to receive $squat a month in social security benefits, because the money has all been spent by the greedy generations that preceded us, really don't have much sympathy here.

MadisonMan said...

She COULD get a job. She is just being too picky.

Agreed. She was hardly forced to retire. She just can't find a job where she lives that pays what she wants. That's her choice. She should own the choice, and stop feeling sorry for herself in the pages of the (cough) Newspaper of Record (cough).

art.the.nerd said...

I would dearly hope to see a discussion from the commenters on the economics of the question of whether to take SS at age 62 vs 65 (in my case, 66).

Personal details: apologies in advance if this is TMI. I turn 60 soon. I'm tired. I work as a computer programmer in a world where tech changes faster than I can keep up. I have significant savings and would dearly love to retire at age 62. Based on the lifespans of my parents and other relatives, I expect to die in my late 70s.

Thanks in advance.

n.n said...

Life is an exercise in risk management. For far too many, dreams of instant gratification, and authorities with "good intentions", have distorted perception and evaluation of risk. Unfortunately, that fantasy is not sustainable, and there are and will be consequences suffered by the individual, society, and humanity.

Hagar said...

DBQ,
The way they figure it is way too complicated for me to understand, but it is somehow based on the average annual earnings of your working life.
This lady must have had just a few years at the $64,000 (present dollars) level.

Hagar said...

DBQ,
The way they figure it is way too complicated for me to understand, but it is somehow based on the average annual earnings of your working life.
This lady must have had just a few years at the $64,000 (present dollars) level.

elkh1 said...

No Medicare, no problem. She qualifies for Mediaid.

The latest disability: you can't find a job in the field that you're trained for. Ergo, an explosion of soc. sec. qualified "disabled" workers especially after the unemployment checks ran out.

Shanna said...

Those of us younger people who, instead of receiving $1,082 a month, are likely to receive $squat a month in social security benefits, because the money has all been spent by the greedy generations that preceded us, really don't have much sympathy here.

Indeed.

Patrick said...

Art - Maybe look at it a different way. You don't like your job and want to retire. Rather than basing the decision on whether you will come out better financially if you wait, decide if you can afford it now. If you can be comfortable on what you would get, then do it.

You should probably know how much if anything you'd give up, but you should also assign some value to your happiness.

Hagar said...

@Bender,
There is going to be some sort of a social security program.
It is just a question of admitting that it is a welfare program and funding it as one on a rational financial basis.

PatCA said...

DBQ, the $1K seemed too low. Maybe she had a big jump in income in the last couple years?

She didn't own a home apparently either. Rents are high in L.A. So she had a false sense of security with a moderate L.A. paycheck. And then it was gone. Two years ago tho in LA there weren't any jobs. None. Movie extra maybe...

Patrick said...

David said: If I die within the next few years it still will have been a good move, If I live longer it will have cost me.

David, I hope it costs you.

You make up your mind, you choose the chance you take...

Chip S. said...

The latest disability: you can't find a job in the field that you're trained for.

I spent many years preparing for employment as a left fielder for the Red Sox, and am now disabled by the depression that followed when I was told that there were more applicants than open positions.

Thank you in advance for your support in the years to come.

edutcher said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The numbers don't seem right to me either. $1K a month? No

Do you think that is too much?? Too little?? It seems about right to me after 30 years of working and assuming she didn't always make the salary (64K) she was getting at retirement age.


I know somebody who worked 20 years outside the home at good money that gets $1000/month.

Someone The Blonde knows nursed for 43 years and gets $1600/month.

And the earlier you retire, the smaller the monthly amount, so quitting early may not be that great a deal.

Bender said...

There is going to be some sort of a social security program.
It is just a question of admitting that it is a welfare program . . .


We must also admit that it is the death of civic virtue when people eventually get to the point of "as long as I get mine, even getting far more than I put in, so what if I am effectively a ward of the state and a leech off of other people who really cannot afford giving their own rent and food money to me instead?"

rcocean said...

There are two ways to lose the retirement game:

1) You retire early and out-live your savings/pension. Your 70s are pretty sad.

2) You decide to work till 70, but die before you collect your retirement jackpot.

I think loss (2) is much worse.

Joe said...

Small point about the $1000 a month the woman is receiving.

"Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit, or “primary insurance amount” (PIA). This is how much you would receive at your full retirement age — 65 or older, depending on your date of birth."

Thus, even if you earned $64,000 the last five years, if you earned only $18,000 for the previous 30 years, your overall earnings calculation will be lower.

Using the SSA calculator shows that the reported amount of $1100 a month is about right.

(I plan on retiring at 62 or so and using the next year to convert parts of my IRA to a Roth-IRA, keeping my income under certain thresholds to minimize my tax impact.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ PatCa

That's sort of what I was getting at. She didn't start out at 64K a year most likely. Most people don't. You build up from a lower wage to (generally) your peak earning years.

the earlier you retire, the smaller the monthly amount, so quitting early may not be that great a deal.

OR....you wait and then die before you have a chance to retire.

Life.....It is all one big crap shoot.

Personally, I'm finding it to be a great deal. But that is just my situation. I have no sympathy for this woman. She made some bad choices. She refuses to compromise and they want us all to feel sorry for her. I don't.

TreeJoe said...

I like this story. It explains how social security is working perfectly to ensure that an older person who can not find employment receives an appropriate level of compensation to keep them out of a ditch, but not more.

Of course, 3 decades of paying 15% of your salary (including the match) to get $12k a year...that's not exactly something the government/NYT wants people to think through. At $40k a year average salary and a 6% average return, that's over $500k she'd have....where she'd be able to pull out MUCH more than $1k a month.

At 4% return over 30 years, she'd have $360k in social security and be able to take out easily $2k a month.

So basically, either this woman earned alot less than an average of $40k a year for 30 years, or SS is giving her under a 4% return (hehehe).

But bottom line, this story is one in which social security is doing exactly what its supposed to be doing: despite bad choices and bad luck, this senior is able to get by.

chuckR said...

Bender - My late father, who would have been 89 this year, swore that he would have been better off putting the money extracted in SS into T bills during the period from 1950 to 1990 when he shut down his business. Had the numbers to prove it too. I've been working since 1973 and can make the same claim (36 of those years self employed) You can also make the same claim. We wouldn't be having this conversation if some of the money had been diverted into a market index sovereign wealth fund instead of being the plaything of Congress and the Executive branch.

Peter said...

"By collecting four years shy of her full retirement age, Ms. Keany will receive a reduced monthly benefit for the rest of her life."

Whether social security's early retirement benefit is a good deal depends on the present value of all future expected cash flowing from it as compared with other options. But in general it is about the same at 62 as at 66 or 70.

Except that in this case, the NYT has stacked the deck by selecting a white female subject, as both whites and females have more life expecancy than nonwhites and males (yet social security does not adjust for this).

So, taking social security at age 62 makes more actuarial sense for a black male than for a white female (although I doubt the NYT wants to go there).

"Using a vignette is a rhetorical device that makes the article more interesting. Who wants to look at a bunch of stats and charts?"

Well, that's what's really annoying about "reporting" on subjects like this, as the subject chosen is rarely representative of the typical.

Just because few NYT reporters understand statistics does not imply that those who read it cannot understand them, or accept this sort of "reporting" as valid.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

@Chuck.

Your late father was a wise man. The money scammed from us over these last 40+ years would have been much better invested in even bank CD's. I figure that between the two of us, my husband and would have been able to accumulate close to 1 million dollars (given that same 4% average annual return) to draw upon, instead of the measly amount that we are doled out by the government. Money that we would OWN and be able to pass along to our heirs when we die or money that we could draw upon at the levels that we want.

We have been robbed by the Government and cheated by the Politicians. Our money has been squandered and given away as party favors to buy votes to those who never paid in. To people who aren't even citizens. Used as a slush fund for purposes other than that originally intended.

The young people who are complaining about the greedy older people have a point. But you are pointing at the wrong people.

You need to realize that we old people have been FORCED to pay for years and years and have been suckered by the system which is now broke through gross mismanagement.

Take it up with the political powers that be. Save yourself.

Rabel said...

"She has nearly three decades of experience in the United States."

As Joe pointed out, she has 5 or 6 zeroes in her 35 year average calculation.

SS certainly has flaws and a questionable future, but keep in mind that we would have tens of millions of elderly with no income, no savings, no nothing without it.

You could blame them and call them failures or fools if it made you feel better, but that wouldn't make them go away.

So if you were talented and worked hard and had a few breaks along the way (or rather, you didn't have a few too many bad breaks) you paid in more than you will take out.

Be thankful for your success and quit whining.

Methadras said...

I will hopefully be doing something to always generate money regardless of my age. I can't see myself just 'retiring'. I think that's when the death really starts to occur. A slow grind. If it's there for me by 65 or 70 great. I plan to live much much longer than that. If it isn't, well, i'll still be hopefully working for as long as I can doing what I can.

Ann Althouse said...

"A little research shows that this story is at least a week old. Ann didn't provide any context so I had no idea it wasn't today's news. But I'm curious why Ann chose an older story about which to blog today?"

The NYT put it on the front page this morning (as my post indicates).

You're right that the story is old -- from a week ago.

The question is why did the NYT decide to boost it today? Maybe they noticed it was getting traffic and had a life, so they decided to use it to lure in more traffic.

Worked on me. I hadn't noticed it before.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks to Dust Bunny Queen at 10:22 for coming right out and saying it.

Ann Althouse said...

Note that she can make over $14,000 a year without losing any of that SS. That is she can double her income... maybe take that concierge job that only gave her 8 hours a week, which wasn't enough to keep her from retiring.

PatCA said...

A couple thoughts: young people are indeed getting something out of SS. They don't have to take care of their parents, which was always expected pre-SS. In the age of small families, that's something. Not much, but...

Also, if you are deciding whether to take SS early, calculate whether you will be richer or able to afford a bigger home or more travel or what if you wait. For most, the answer is no, so 70% of the people choose the early option. If a couple of hundred dollars a month means that much, then you are not ready.

Jay said...

Good news!

Obama just granted 800,000 non-citizens work permits and they can pay for this woman's trailer!

Ain't Obamanomics grand!?

jimbino said...

Young men need to learn to game the Social Security system. Here's how:

Marry an "oh-so-grateful" youthful foreigner, with or without kid. Divorce her at 10 years. Repeat four times.

In retirement, marry another "oh-so-grateful" young women.

All five of them will qualify for their share of your SS benefits at age 62 (that's why they married you!). Every one of them will have treated you 10x better than a wife would have, especially approaching that 10th year.

Ann Althouse said...

So if the truth is that it's better for the individual to retire at 62 and collect SS, then there is a big collective interest in suppressing this truth, right? Perhaps we should celebrate this NYT propaganda.

jimbino said...

Correction:

I should have said, "Every one of them will have treated you 10x better than a citizen-wife would have." Indeed, no man with any sense would marry an Amerikan-citizen when he could get a green card in the EU or Brazil, etc., by marrying a citizen from there.

jimbino said...

The smartist game a woman can play is to retire at 62 on her share of her husband's SS benefits, waiting till age 70 to get her bumped-up share. The woman, apart from collecting SS benefits for many more years, gets two bites at the SS apple.

The Black man, of course, has a life expectancy roughly equal to the age of qualification for SS benefits. That's how it was designed: socialist transfer of wealth from the poor and oppressed to the favored White middle class, especially its women.

Shanna said...

You need to realize that we old people have been FORCED to pay for years and years and have been suckered by the system which is now broke through gross mismanagement.

This is true, but so are we and we are likely to get basically nothing out of it. So the math, although still not good, works out better for you guys than for us.

If there were a younger person lobby comparable to the AARP to combat the 'grandma is going to eat dogfood if we try to reform SS so shut up' ads to try to protect our rights, maybe that would help. But people are so liberal in their 20's it's all a wash.

chuckR said...

SS is partially an annuity, partially a national insurance program against destitution in old age and mostly a way to buy votes for incumbents while raiding the piggy bank. Insurance is an important component of SS, but we'd still be better off if some of the money were in a sovereign wealth fund. The feds do a pretty good job with their own retirement savings plans. But you'd need to make it passive and outside the control of and attention of Congress. I don't know if that's even possible with the Federal employees funds levels.

Bender mentioned civic virtue. That's a hard concept for the half of people who effectively pay no income tax and many of whom get more in benefits than they pay in SS, if they pay at all.

A big, big problem is that today we don't need as many people to work as we used to. Period. In manufacturing, in agriculture, in other mature fields. So what do we do with everyone? And what do we do with people in manual labor? How do you tell a 50 y.o. roofer with blown out knees that he needs to work another 15-20 years?

Chip S. said...

So if the truth is that it's better for the individual to retire at 62 and collect SS, then there is a big collective interest in suppressing this truth, right?

No.

From the Treasury's point of view, it's approximately a wash b/c what it pays out on average is about the same either way. From the viewpoint of a risk-averse 62-year-old, it's better in general b/c the individual either "wins" or "loses", but doesn't get the average except as a razor's edge outcome.

I don't see any reason to suppress the information, unless you want to exploit African-Americans, as explained by jimbino.

rcocean said...

"Obama just granted 800,000 non-citizens work permits and they can pay for this woman's trailer!"

Yes, and they can pay the unemployment benefits for the 8% of Americans who are unemployed.

rcocean said...

So the math, although still not good, works out better for you guys than for us.

Who is this "you"? All of us under 65 have been paying into the SS system our entire working lives. We're all going to get something out of it. Very few middle-class worker-bees will get back what they payed in.

Michael McNeil said...

No Medicare, no problem. She qualifies for Mediaid.

I don't know how it is elsewhere, but in California Medicaid (Medi-Cal here) isn't available — unless you qualify as disabled — until age 65.

Michael K said...

"I don't think you can't get Medicare until age 65 unless you are on Soc Sec disability."

Hmmm I think I was eligible at 62 but that was 11 years ago and I can't remember. I was disabled (Had to give up surgery) and had private disability insurance for a back injury but didn't apply for SS disability. I think my wife's sister just applied at 62 but maybe she has Medicaid for medical.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Thanks to Dust Bunny Queen at 10:22 for coming right out and saying it.

Thanks. I calls 'em as I sees 'em. Plus I'm hung over and grumpy today.

California Medicaid (Medi-Cal here) isn't available — unless you qualify as disabled — until age 65.

Actually, no. You can qualify for Medi-Cal for financial purposes. The lady in the scenario would most likely would qualify. This is one of the reasons that CA is in such poor financial straits. Huge amounts of people and ILLEGAL aliens sucking off of the taxpayers though Medi-Cal. The fraud in the system is rampant.

Jay said...

Very few middle-class worker-bees will get back what they payed in.

Actually,

they get back more than they pay in.

jimbino said...

ChuckR,

You ignore the fact that a great amount of SS benefits go to SS disability payments and to the minor kids of breeders who are retired or disabled. My dad at 62 got benefits for my youngest sister until she turned 22 or some such, because she was a college student.

AJ Lynch said...

Interesting that it two women, DBQ and Althouse, rip this lady while the rest of us are a bit less emotional.

Btw- Tree Joe's comment at 11:39 was spot on because the social security system is a rip off but at least you will be a step above destitution.

wildswan said...

To the one who asked: should I retire early - Try this: start living now on what you will get from SS. If it's OK, then retire early because it's great to have free time. But I think you will be surprised at what "fixed income" really means. SS has a so-called cost of living increase but this is not even keeping up with the price of gas.
As far as the woman in the story, It's just a fact that the older you are, the harder it is to get a job. (And I bet if you checked out the NYT hiring practices you would find that it isn't hiring many people who are over fifty-five.) This is creating a huge pool of non-workers who are bankrupting the system. It is a social issue. My one idea is that those on SS should be allowed to volunteer to fill-in when public sector people get laid off. We are paid already and many of us are still quite capable of working

jimbino said...

Yo Jay,

I have a spreadsheet calculation that shows that a typical young man who forgoes SS benefits altogether, instead investing his SS "contributions" in the S&P 500, will have gained some $2,000,000+ in the 40+ years of his professional career.

The most important thing is that upon his death his heirs would get:

from SS=$0 compared to from S&P 500 = $2,000,000+. Big difference, especially for the Black Amerikan.

AJ Lynch said...

Rcocean:

You bring up a point and it made me wonder if it would be smart to charge illegals a big fee to get a work visa but not citizenship.

If we charged each of these 800,000 a fee of $25,000, we could reduce the deficit by $20 Billion! Sure it would take them years to pay it but I say we do it anyway. Ah but libruls would never approve a plan like this.

Michael said...

The concierge job would have been perfect. Had she troubled to think it through she would know that concierge positions receive excellent tips and, further and importantly, baksheesh from restaurants, car services, bars and shops. By interacting extensively with these businesses it could have come to pass that she would have found a better position, a better paying position. But no. As DBQ noted, she decides to move to a freaking California resort community and live in a trailer. I would bet the NYT showed no curiosity about her job prospects on the outer banks where, by the way, much of the help speaks Russian.

Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

Yo Jay,

I have a spreadsheet calculation that shows that a typical young man who forgoes SS benefits altogether, instead investing his SS "contributions" in the S&P 500, will have gained some $2,000,000+ in the 40+ years of his professional career.


I don't doubt that.

But the good people running the government think Wall Street is bad, profits are worse, and greed is evil

chuckR said...

jimbino

Very true - I didn't want to get into that because I don't know - and would probably be disheartened if I did know - the relative portion of those payments. I knew a very well-to-do man who passed and his son was supported through college despite ample savings and a generous private pension for his heirs. If you are going to define SS as an annuity and insurance, then just like real insurance companies do, you must have rules that apply over the life of the contract with the individual 'insured'.

Jay

"Actually,

they get back more than they pay in."

True only in the most literal sense and only then if you aren't paying the maximum and only if you don't adjust for inflation.

rcocean said...

AJ Lynch; good idea but liberals want immigrants - no matter what.

Every immigrant is a future Democrat voter.

That's the way liberals/Democrats look at it.

Jay said...


True only in the most literal sense and only then if you aren't paying the maximum and only if you don't adjust for inflation.


Sorry, that isn't true.

Shanna said...

Sorry, that isn't true.

Interesting to see the difference in what you get versus what you paid in for married vs single, etc..(I didn't see any indication that that included potential for earnings for payments - did it?)

What are they using to estimate 2030 payments? Because everything I've ever gotten from SSA says 'this estimate is just a guess, we have no clue what you will actually get but it will probably be way less' or some such thing.

We're all going to get something out of it.

In theory. Maybe. Who the heck knows?

SS disability

Huge, huge elephant in the room when talking about SS.

rhhardin said...

SS is both insurance (against outliving your savings if you live to 100) and current income (if you haven't saved much).

If insurance is more important to you, start benefits at 70.

If current income is more important, consider starting benefits earlier.

If insurance is more important, then getting the most money out of the government isn't the point, just as the point of fire insurance isn't getting the most money out of the insurance company.
It just covers a contingency that you can't take care of yourself.
Starting benefits late gives the best coverage, namely the biggest checks at age 100, long after your savings are gone.

Chip S. said...

To follow-up on Jay's comment, another useful way to look at SS is the "real" (i.e., net-of-inflation) rate of return on SS around. No estimate I'm aware of finds a negative real r.o.r. except probably for 20-somethings. Yes, the returns are low on average (I'd guess around 2%) for most age cohorts, but that's not terrible for a pretty safe annuity. (For comparison purposes, check out the going rates right now on annuities and be glad you're not shopping for one with your accumulated life savings in hand.)

Here's a site where you can enter your own data and get a forecasted rate of return. I won't vouch for its exact reliability, but its answers are based on SSA actuarial forecasts--and it's easy to use.

There are some very good reasons to reform SS, but none of them is that it gives everyone a negative return--at least not until the dependency rate maxes out in a couple of decades. The best reason to reform SS now is that it will be a lot harder to do later on.

rhhardin said...

What you paid in, etc.

It isn't a premium payment, it's a general tax, and one of the best ones because it's flat (and, over the limit, actually regressive, which helps undo a little of the steeply progressive income tax).

The government couldn't save the payments if it wanted to, because the money supply would fall. It has to instantly return the SS tax payments to the economy, either by spending it (which they do) or using it to buy back government debt, to keep the money supply the same.

The way they spend it is to buy government debt, which means an IOU winds up in the "trust fund." But any alternative has the same effect, an IOU for your future benefits.

In the meantime, the SS tax supports the government like any tax. Getting to invest it for yourself is not and never will be an option.

They way the government makes good on your benefits is to change things like retirement age and so forth so that they equal what the working population is willing to support when the future comes.

Nothing people did for themselves could do any better.

(Supposing you invest, then when your age cohort retires at 65, there are too many people selling stocks at once and not enough buyers. The stock prices fall, causing people to keep working to increase lost savings. The effect is to raise the retirement age until there are enough worker/stock buyers willing to support your retiring. The government can do no better.)

Chip S. said...

@rhhardin--You seem to think that the primary bug in SS is a feature.

The difference b/w a PAYGO system and private saving is the resulting level of private-sector investment. With SS, a system that looks just like a savings plan to each individual doesn't translate into investment in productive capacity. The asset that is represented by SS benefits is a claim against the future earnings of workers.

When people save on their own, they buy claims to the future earnings of capital. So a large cohort like the boomers would increase the amount of income available in the future to pay their retirement benefits by the fact that they invested in productive capital during their working lives.

With SS, a large cohort is nothing but a drain on future income, having done nothing to increase future output through previous investments.

That's the rationale behind at least partial privatization of SS.

Dust Bunny Queen said...


Nothing people did for themselves could do any better.


You can certainly get a better ROI than the sucky less than 2% return the government is getting.

To be fair. If people are given the chance to invest versus being forced to invest, we all know that most will just spend the money and end up with nothing.

(Supposing you invest, then when your age cohort retires at 65, there are too many people selling stocks at once and not enough buyers. The stock prices fall, causing people to keep working to increase lost savings. The effect is to raise the retirement age until there are enough worker/stock buyers willing to support your retiring. The government can do no better.)


There is so much wrong with this that I am mind boggled at where to start.

jimbino said...

Social Security:

1. Is racist and sexist, since it effectively transfers wealth from single Black men to single White women.

2. Favors marriage, to the detriment of singles, since it grants several serial spouses, as well as the current one, to piggyback on the benefits of the wage-earner.

3. Favors indolence, since a series of indolent spouses can gain benefits by piggybacking on the SS contributions of a worker.

4. Is pro-natalist, in that it allows kids of wage-earners to piggyback on the benefits of the wage-earner, a benefit denied to the childfree.

5. Is anti-immigrant and racist, in that it gladly accepts contributions from illegal aliens and temporary workers who have no chance of ever seeing any benefits.

6. Is deceptive and inefficient, in that it rewards folks for disabilities, which have nothing to do with workers' contributions to their own retirement.

The one positive thing you can say is that SS, in contradistinction to Medicare, pays out to a lifelong contributor who has moved to Brazil or France.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuckR said...

Jay - couple of questions

1)in the link does that graph figure in the % paid by the employer also?
2)what happens if you rerun, looking forward, for a high income earner, not someone at $43.5K?
3)restating 2) at what wage are you projected to get less than you paid?

and an observation - given that the Medicare contribution is about 1/4 the SS contribution, aren't you a little alarmed by the size of Medicare vs SS in 2030?

Shanna said...

Starting benefits late gives the best coverage

It's also the biggest risk of getting nothing back.

Speaking of, die before 62 (or if you decide to wait, later), your ROR is zero.

Joe said...

I have a spreadsheet calculation that shows that a typical young man who forgoes SS benefits altogether, instead investing his SS "contributions" in the S&P 500, will have gained some $2,000,000+ in the 40+ years of his professional career.

Not even close. It's about a quarter that and I used a very generous $50,000 a year salary and only one side of FICA.

That said, if you simply view the FICA contribution as a loss and pay 10% of your income into some sort of retirement account (Roth/IRA/401k) and in turn invest in a low cost index fund for 35 years, you'd have a pretty good nest egg.

On the other hand, take too much out of your IRA/401k and government takes their share and the government is just as likely as not to change the Roth rules.

There is also the issue of "low cost index fund." Too many fools invest in "high return" mutual funds that have massive expense ratios. (Be aware of index funds; I looked at one the other day with an expense ratio over 2%!)

PatCA said...

"To be fair. If people are given the chance to invest versus being forced to invest, we all know that most will just spend the money and end up with nothing."

Exactly. And then show up at 62 begging for a bailout, which our round heel pols would give them.

National BK is inevitable either way. So I'm enjoying it now!

Michael McNeil said...

“California Medicaid (Medi-Cal here) isn't available — unless you qualify as disabled — until age 65.”

Actually, no. You can qualify for Medi-Cal for financial purposes.


The rule in Santa Cruz County when I looked into it a couple of years back was flatly: not 65 or over and not 21 or younger? No Medi-Cal. However, the county will provide some medical services for the indigent at its own clinic, a program called Medi-Cruz.

jimbino said...

Joe,

There's no reason to use "one side of FICA" since any economist will tell you that the employee pays the whole 12%+. I assumed that the S%P pays 6-7% per annum, after taxes, which it has achieved, on average, since 1923, when it was founded.

rhhardin said...

@DBQ
"(Supposing you invest, then when your age cohort retires at 65, there are too many people selling stocks at once and not enough buyers. The stock prices fall, causing people to keep working to increase lost savings. The effect is to raise the retirement age until there are enough worker/stock buyers willing to support your retiring. The government can do no better.)"

There is so much wrong with this that I am mind boggled at where to start.


Fallacy of composition.

If everybody stands on their toes, everybody can see better.

Future retirees are supported by goods and services of future workers. Money is just a ticket in line to say what the economy does next, presumably something for you. The Fed (in normal times) regulates the supply of tickets so that there aren't so many that they are bidding against each other for the same service and driving up prices, or so few that the economy goes idle.

Money is not wealth, and piling it up doesn't provide goods and services, though to an individual acting alone, like to an individual standing on his toes alone, it seems otherwise. That's why it's a fallacy.

The ratio of workers to retirees has to be large enough so that the workers put up with supporting the retirees, presumably in exchange for the same deal for themselves in mind.

That results in the retirement age, on the average, absolutely having to adjust.

Money can't fix that. It's a people ratio problem.

rhhardin said...

@Chip S
You seem to think that the primary bug in SS is a feature.

It's hard to answer simply. You have to think in terms that ignores money and just goes to goods and services, letting the Fed take care of the money supply.

One thought experiment is to keep the SS tax - as I say, it's a great tax compared to the income tax - and just stop paying SS benefits.

Presumably the total tax load could then be reduced by SS benefits.

Which tax should be reduced, is the question that's the point.

I'd suggest the higher marginal rates on the income tax ought to be levelled down, to raise investment and productivity, rather than the SS tax being eliminated.

Do you agree?

There's the hanging complication of not paying any SS benefits, a political problem until the retirees die off at least.

But just from the idea that the SS tax is just a general tax, and there are other taxes, and which one ought to get reduced if there's an opportunity.

Then we can come back to saving, and whether productivity gets you out of the retiree to worker ratio problem.

Joe said...

There's no reason to use "one side of FICA" since any economist will tell you that the employee pays the whole 12%+.

And that's bullshit. The employee would not get the other 6.2% (how many employers gave employees raises for the reduced tax amount of the recent tax holiday?)

However, even if you use 12.4%, you get about $800,000 (not shabby, but no where near $2 million.)

The S&P 500 has averaged about 6% for the past 35 years, which is the number I used (and didn't add in expenses.)

(Don't get me wrong; if there were an option for me to get a check for all my social security contributions using simple compound interest of the inflation rate for each year and in exchange I'd opt out of Social Security entirely, I'd take it.)

Chip S. said...

I'll repeat what I posted earlier: Social security is a matter of the ratio of retirees to workers. But private saving is a matter of the people-to-capital ratio.

Financial assets--the real quantity of which is not determined by the Federal Reserve but by saving and investment--are claims to the income generated by real assets, i.e., the capital stock. Greater capital accumulated means higher per-capita income, on which retirees can live without taxes on workers.

It's true that a big, high-saving cohort might depress the long-run rate of return in a closed system, but the US is very clearly connected to a world-wide capital market, so that effect is negligible.

ken in sc said...

I changed school districts to get away from an asshole principal. I taught two more years and then a new superintendent came in and reorganized the school. I had not been there long enough for a continuing contract (tenure). I had to reapply for my own job. I was being interviewed by people younger and stupider then me. The process was so humiliating, I took early retirement. I also took early social security because I knew it was going to run out of money soon. I'm happy so far.

ken in sc said...

I recently ran into the principal who hired me last, in the grocery store. He said I was the best prepared teacher he had ever hired. That made me feel better, but I am glad to be out of that business.

Chip S. said...

I'd suggest the higher marginal rates on the income tax ought to be levelled down, to raise investment and productivity, rather than the SS tax being eliminated.

Only a part of the SS tax works like a tax--the difference between the yield on SS and the yield on whatever assets workers would otherwise invest in.
On balance, I'd favor keeping the SS tax as long as we keep paying SS benefits, but I'd like to phase out (at least to some degree) both of them.

What you may have in mind is taxing labor and capital income at very different rates, as is done In many European countries. They typically subject labor income to a pretty progressive tax, while capital income taxation is pretty flat.

The reason, of course, is the high degree of international mobility of investment, which limits the revenue possibilities of capital taxation.

Overall, given how relatively easy it is for "the rich" to convert salaries into capital gains, I'd be inclined to go along with your preference for a relatively flat income tax (with a substantial personal exemption).

rhhardin said...

@ChipS
Financial assets--the real quantity of which is not determined by the Federal Reserve but by saving and investment--are claims to the income generated by real assets, i.e., the capital stock. Greater capital accumulated means higher per-capita income, on which retirees can live without taxes on workers.

The Fed doesn't regulate capital, only money, and the money supply is made to match what the economy can do at once.

This works because only money is a claim on goods and services, not financial assets.

To get a good or service, you have to sell a financial asset, which means that somebody with the money you need gives you the money (he does not create it but has it) in return for the financial asset. That's a wash with respect to claims on the economy. You can now make a claim and he cannot, where it used to be he can make a claim and you cannot.

The key is what the economy is capable of doing at once, which absolutely sets the amount of goods and services around.

With respect to SS, what tax ought to be reduced if SS stops paying benefits?

rhhardin said...

@Chip S (just saw your 5:29)
All of SS is a tax if the benefits are up for grabs. It just funds the same pot of money in the same way, and has to. The government can't save.

The insight is that neither can the whole nation.

It runs into worker retiree ratios, the same one that the government runs into.

jimbino said...

Hey Joe,

I have worked as a contract programmer, and I paid the full 12.4% or whatever it was. It's called "Self-employment" tax.

In your calculations, how many years did your worker pay SS taxes? I started paying in at 16 and here I am still paying SS taxes 50 years later.

rhhardin said...

Self employed pay both sides of the SS tax.

They give you a credit though for the fact that otherwise employed people don't count the employer half of SS in their income. The credit subtracts that amount off of your own income.

Mary said...

"There is going to be some sort of a social security program.
It is just a question of admitting that it is a welfare program and funding it as one on a rational financial basis."


Wow.
For such a verbally independent crowd, I never would have suspected so many of you, in such good intellectual and presumably working shape, would have made the choice to retire early, sit on your asses, and suck on the gov'mint teat.

Congratulations hypocrites. You ought to be thanking the younger people for your ... "welfare". Suck it all up fast now, the rest of us weren't expecting anything but crumbs, so we are a bit more independent than you, it seems, and also ... less hypocritical.

Signed,
Fiscal Conservative.
(a practicing one)

Mary said...

Why don't some of y'all go back to school and get yourselves retrained?

Retiring at 52, when you're not on your sickbed, ought to be embarrassing. What do you do? Eat pastries and get fat? Many man boobs out there yet? (Fat guys sag too, I've noticed...)

rcocean said...

"Social security is a matter of the ratio of retirees to workers. "

Sorry, but this is absurd generalization that is constantly repeated. One person making $100K contributes more to the SS fund then 5 people working at a 7-11. Many retirees are government workers and by retiring saved the government money.

On a macro level, you need x numbers of people to keep the economy running & GNP growing, but SS is only a small part of our GNP.

Mary said...

We must also admit that it is the death of civic virtue when people eventually get to the point of "as long as I get mine, even getting far more than I put in, so what if I am effectively a ward of the state and a leech off of other people who really cannot afford giving their own rent and food money to me instead?"

amen.
(Though I dearly hope when annie hits 62, she gets out of UW and grabs all she can get for herself. Good riddance, and cheaper for the taxpayers in the long run. Someone new could do her "job" for much much less. Plus, I just learned Prof. Kidwell died too as well as Prof. Larson. Grab and go, annie...)

Chip S. said...

All of SS is a tax if the benefits are up for grabs.

This is true. That's why I'd tie the phase-out of the tax to a phase-out of benefits.

Thankfully no one in this thread has yet advocated means testing of SS benefits. That would act as a massive effective increase in the tax rate on personal saving.

Chip S. said...

Sorry, but this is absurd generalization that is constantly repeated.

I'm sorry you're sorry, but it happens to be repeated constantly because it's true.

Higher-income people pay more in taxes up to a point, but they also get more in benefits up to a point. That alone wouldn't make SS neutral w.r.t. income, but higher-income people also tend to live longer.

ricpic said...

rh - you keep talking about outliving your savings, or outliving ones savings, to make it less personal. Do you think most retirees, at the time of retirement determine that they'll live at the level of 50K a year on an income of 30K a year and eat up their savings of, let's say 100K in 5 years? With the rarest of exceptions that's not how it works. Most retirees are bound and determined to never eat into the principal they've accumulated. They live on the interest from the principal plus social security plus pension if they have one and not a penny more, often considerably less, making the terror of outliving their savings a non-issue.

Mary said...

"...instead of the measly amount that we are doled out by the government. "

Please stop complaining, unless you are eating dirt.

Plenty of younger folk will get nothing in retirement, because of your ... "choices".

Enjoy the largesse; I'm sorry your husband can't afford to support you in retirement and you have to be on the dole. It must suck bad to bounce into the government safety net so young eh, thus your complaints.

Mary said...

"I will hopefully be doing something to always generate money regardless of my age. I can't see myself just 'retiring'. I think that's when the death really starts to occur. A slow grind. If it's there for me by 65 or 70 great. I plan to live much much longer than that. If it isn't, well, i'll still be hopefully working for as long as I can doing what I can."

Thank you for this healthy attitude. Shame the rest of them, unless they are all dying of some diseases they're not mentioning...

rhhardin said...

@ripic
rh - you keep talking about outliving your savings, or outliving ones savings, to make it less personal. Do you think most retirees, at the time of retirement determine that they'll live at the level of 50K a year on an income of 30K a year and eat up their savings of, let's say 100K in 5 years?

Actually, they do live off principal, but just don't realize it. The income stream is mostly inflation.

With zero inflation and negligible income stream, it's just more obvious that that's what's going on.

The corresponding strategy in the latter case is taper off how fast you withdraw, so it too lasts the same as the former case in real dollars.

The problem, though, is that normal people can save for a normal retirement, but they can't save for the longest possible retirement. That's where the insurance aspect kicks in. It keeps paying you until you die no matter how long.

This is at the expense of people who die younger than average, just as fire insurance pays off at the expense of people whose house doesn't burn down.

So SS takes premiums from everybody saving for average retirement and distrubutes them to outlier people who live a long time.

Mary said...

"You need to realize that we old people have been FORCED to pay for years and years ..."

Cry me a river.
I too have been "forced" to pay in, since I started working on the books at the pool in the summer after freshman year at 14.

Don't expect to get any Social Security in retirement, because by then it will be as it should be now: a safety net program for elderly welfare cases who have no other way of putting a roof over their heads, or meals in their bellies.

Glad it's just ... icing on the retirement cake for you. Enjoy, and don't spend it all in one place, like you apparently did your earnings and savings for all those years.

Mary said...

"Very few middle-class worker-bees will get back what they payed in.

Actually, they get back more than they pay in."

Mmmm... tell it.
The truth stings to all these alleged independent people retiring early, presumably healthy enough to get a typing job at least...

rcocean said...

Take the current cap (100K) off SS taxes & the So-called crisis will be solved.

Look at the numbers.

I'm outa here - I'm tired of discussing finance/econ with ideologues who don't know the facts or can't think.

Jay said...

chuckR,

I don't believe that data contains the employer paid portion.

I have not seen data on what those graphs look like for the higher income earners.

Mary said...

"A couple thoughts: young people are indeed getting something out of SS. They don't have to take care of their parents."

Oh bull roar.

I'd much rather everyone "take care" of their parents (the good ones can financially afford to take care of themselves) than to take care of the early retirees here.

You're probably all fat, diabetic and smoke too in your leisure life. That's the problem with collecting early. More time to bitch and moan, and not practice good healthy habits. Like working.

Mary said...

"Thanks to Dust Bunny Queen at 10:22 for coming right out and saying it.

Thanks. I calls 'em as I sees 'em. Plus I'm hung over and grumpy today."

Wait... are you spending your dole money on liquor?

(I think if you were black, people here would criticize you for that... Spending gov't money for booze, not for being black.)

*They say that what you mock
Will surely overtake you.
and you become a moocher
so the moocher will not break you...*

I hope you're at least buying generic, not top shelf stuff.

Mary said...

"All of us under 65 have been paying into the SS system our entire working lives. We're all going to get something out of it."

Your words are pretty, but I wouldn't bank on them...

Better to take care of oneself than be disappointed (and needy) in the wake of these people. Some Boomers have a way of breaking things -- like the culture -- so that what they had is of no benefit to those who come after.

Mary said...

"My one idea is that those on SS should be allowed to volunteer to fill-in when public sector people get laid off. We are paid already and many of us are still quite capable of working"

Now that's the spirit, wildswan.
Very non- ME ME ME.
Beautiful.

I think if a few of these ladies on here doing the complaining were asked to contribute by volunteering to pick up trash by the side of the road (think of it as ... a daily walk, where you get to stoop and bend too), they'd sober up quiet down a bit with the whines.

Maybe.

John Lynch said...

You can make 1000 dollars a month on minimum wage. If she isn't lying, she should qualify for food stamps. Those two things would double her income.

Why not work for a few years? The rent she's paying isn't that high, and unless she has a lot of debt she shouldn't have a hard time making ends meet.

Simon Kenton said...

I took it early. I am returning it to my children, paying principal on their home loans and paying off one's student loan. When the system fails, as any ponzi scheme must, their net worth will have been increased for as long as it has lasted, Unlike most of their cohort - the Mary generation, as we term it -- who form the most recent, lowest pediment of the scheme, my children will have had their contributions returned to them in spite of the collapse. If it takes a while to fail, their houses will be paid off. Thus I lift my leg on the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.

furious_a said...

The New York Times, knowing its readership so well, knows the anecdotal story of one woman...

...and we all know that the plural of "anecdote" is "data".

furious_a said...

Sorry, but this is absurd generalization that is constantly repeated. One person making $100K contributes more to the SS fund then 5 people working at a 7-11.

If the five people working at a 7-11 each make $10/hr, no that one person doesn't.

Mary said...

"I am returning it to my children, paying principal on their home loans and paying off one's student loan."


Very independent those children will be...

Can you at least make them send us a thank you not for our dollars being transferred to take care of them so early in life?

You've welcome.

Mary said...

thank you notE

Simon Kenton said...

Their social security contributions are extorted from them as from all who are still working. I am returning those dollars to them, at a time in their career when they need them most and are least able to afford losing them. Put another way, the system forces them to support me (the 3:1 ratio is roughly characteristic of the system at present, and will get worse). I don't want to be supported by others, particularly not by force. Incidentally, I delayed taking it until the monthly payout pretty much matched their pay-ins. Perhaps it will soothe you to learn that your dollars are not involved, and can go to support your own parents.

Mary, I suspect I am not the only one here faced with determining, based on your posting style, that you are either rebarbative or stupid. I hope you won't think I'm flattering you when I say that I don't think you're stupid.