5 Political Lies about Social Security – Understanding the Problems

social security benefitsSocial Security was created on August 14, 1935 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act and has been controversial since its beginning. A Cato Institute commentary compared Social Security to Otto von Bismarck’s welfare state in Germany, calling it a “Ponzi scheme, with new contributions used to pay off earlier ‘investors.’” The author of the Cato commentary, Marc Rudov, doubles down his criticism in a second American Thinker article, stating that “Social Security is irreversibly insolvent.” These negative statements assume that future beneficiaries will receive no benefits or will receive payments less than their contributions because their contributions are being used to support current beneficiaries.

But what are the facts?

Though viewed by many as “socialism,” Social Security was created to protect Americans from the ravages of old age, poverty, and unemployment. In 1937, 53,236 beneficiaries (primarily white males) received benefits of $1.3 million, while in 2012 56,758,185 retired workers, dependent family members and survivors, and disabled workers and their family members received $773.2 billion in benefits. Social Security payments represent the majority income for more than two-thirds of all retirees, with an average monthly benefit of $1,235 – hardly enough to live comfortably in today’s expensive society, yet it often means the difference between homelessness, hunger, and despair.

In 2035, an estimated 91 million Americans will be eligible for benefits. While the program’s funding and benefits mechanisms will be changed, it will remain the primary financial safety net for most citizens.

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Risky Investment Moves That Could Pay Off

stack of money This article originally appeared on Investopedia.com on March 14, 2013.
According to a 2012 Employee Benefit Research Institute poll, only one in seven Americans are confident that they will retire with enough money to live comfortably, even though one in three expect to work past the age of 65. The reason: Saving for retirement is increasingly difficult for families faced with the costs of rising healthcare, purchasing a home and sending children to college. In fact, a middle-income household is likely to spend almost $227,000 to raise just one child to 18 years of age, according to a 2011 article in CNNMoney, and that doesn’t include college expenses. The College Board reports that attending a four-year program averages between $22,000 and just over $43,000 per year. Include more than $20,000 per year in healthcare costs for a family of four (including the employer’s portion), and it’s easy to understand why the average American is frighteningly underprepared for retirement.

One obvious solution to this dilemma is to increase the investment return on what you do have saved. The results can be dramatic. For example, if you’re 45 years old and have $62,000 in an account earning 3%, it will grow to almost $112,000 by age 65 with no additional investment. However, if instead it earns 9%, that $62,000 will become a more impressive $347,500 over the same period of time. Striving to increase your investment return is a no-brainer if you want to have a more comfortable retirement, but pulling it off isn’t quite so clear-cut.

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