Not even all of six -- in January 2025, I'll be able to retire with full Social Security. And don't think I won't take the Federal check, as long as it holds out: having been forced into contributing to FDR's* New Deal "safety net," I have paid in far more what I'll get back and as long as the system is still operating, I'd like to have that small return, thank you all the same. That and my (tiny) IRA should get me by, assuming I live very frugally.
If I hold out longer, Uncle Sam will allow me a little more -- but there's a catch:
Present projections have the system's reserve assets crossing zero in 2034, with a choice after that of cutting benefits about 25 percent and running it right off the incoming tax, cranking up the retirement age (again), or increasing the payroll tax that funds it (to a chorus of, "Boomers ruin everything," from the generations still working).
It's a race against time! So why am I not in the least excited about it?
* Like most of the New Deal, this was a reaction to a more radical proposal; in this case, the Townsend Plan: elderly physician Francis Townsend was pushing the notion of paying every (non-criminal) retiree over sixty the remarkable sum of three hundred 1933 dollars every month, but they had to spend it all within thirty days. That's around $3800 in 2019 dollars! It was getting pretty popular, too; as ever, the trouble with the elderly is they have little to lose and plenty of free time. Congress and President Roosevelt ginned up Social Security by 1935, a tearing hurry at Congressional speed, and headed off Dr. Townsend at the pass with a higher retirement age and a smaller payout.
Alas, it's a pyramid scheme, and relies on population growth, inflation and a retirement age set late enough that a significant percentage of the prospective recipients die before receiving full benefits. Medical advances get a lot more of us past 65 -- or even 67 -- these days, so small wonder it's running on empty.
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