Social Security

There are so many rumors and so much misinformation about Social Security today. Here is the truth. No, Social Security is not going broke, but it will be out of reserves soon if not modified. Yes, Social Security future benefits will be reduced if something isn’t done. No, your Social Security payments have not been used for other government programs or wars.  Here are some myth busters and warnings you need to know about your Social Security.

In 2018, America’s workers paid in $965 billion into Social Security, and beneficiaries paid $36 billion in income taxes on benefits for a total of about $1 trillion in payments. All this went into the U.S. treasury earmarked for Social Security. The treasury paid out $998 billion in retiree benefits. The other $3 billion went into the Social Security trust fund, or as some call it, the “lock box.” The trust fund also earned $85 billion in interest last year. So, all pay-ins and pay-outs are accounted for. They always have been and always will be. Not a dollar of your hard-earned payroll taxes has been used for anything but to pay qualified beneficiaries. No, illegal immigrants don’t get Social Security. And, yes, Congressmen and Senators pay into Social Security just like the rest of us. But there is reason for great concern for the program.

I recently attended the annual conference for the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) congressional delegates. Serving as an AMAC delegate for Arkansas’s Congressional District 4 has been a joy and an education for me. Congressman Bruce Westerman is a pleasure to work with. One of AMAC’s principal efforts right now is lobbying Washington for its sensible reform plan to keep Social Security solvent for present and future retirees. The program is rapidly approaching the end of its reserves and will soon be on a strictly pay-as-you-go basis. This will reduce benefits by 20% or more.

Social Security was designed in 1935 for contributions to equal withdrawals. That was when life expectancy was 61 years. Most people didn’t live long enough to collect benefits. Each person who lived long enough had many workers paying for his or her benefits. In the 60’s the ratio of contributing workers to retired recipients was around 5 to 1. Today it is close to 2 to 1 and trending lower. The good news is there is about $3 trillion in the Social Security trust fund today. The bad news is it will all be gone by 2034, because there will not be enough workers to support the longer-living retirees. Most retirees now collect more in their lifetime than they have paid in. If we don’t make adjustments, or even if we wait too long to start making adjustments, benefits in 2034 will be limited to what is being paid in–about 21% less than current benefits.

I urge you to get smart on Social Security and put pressure on your Congressman and Senators to have the courage to do the unpopular and reform the program well before reserves are depleted. Congressman Westerman supports the AMAC plan for saving Social Security and believes it is the best plan in Washington. Click here to learn about the plan. Also, if you need personal advice about anything concerning Social Security, ask America’s best and friendliest advisors at ssadvisor@amacfoundation.org. You can also call them at 1-888-750-2622. It’s free, even to non-members. It could save you a lot of money. For instance, they will calculate whether it would be best to begin drawing at age 62 or later based on your individual situation.

If you’re over 50 and not a member of AMAC, you’re missing out. It’s the same price as AARP with the same benefits, but it is a conservative organization. Click here for their website.

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