Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bye-Bye, Money. I hardly knew you.

I just got a Social Security statement in the mail, which includes this nifty little fact sheet called "What young workers should know about Social Security and saving." Among such important headlines as "Social Security protects you if you become disabled..." and "Social Security protects your family in the event of death..." and "Social Security is a financial foundation" is another: Will Social Security still be around when I retire? The answer: "Yes."

But two sentences later comes the full disclosure:

"The Social Security Board of Trustees now estimates that based on current law, in 2041, the Trust Funds will be depleted. Because people are living longer and the birth rate is low, the ratio of workers to beneficiaries is falling. Therefore the taxes that are paid by workers will not be enough to pay the full benefit amounts scheduled."

HOWEVER, it goes on to say, "this does not mean that Social Security benefit payments would disappear. Even if modifications to the program are not made, there would still be enough funds in 2041 from taxes paid by workers to pay about $780 for every $1,000 in benefits scheduled."

I would be eligible for retirement ~2045+/-. I don't think most people my age and younger really expect to see their Social Security investments returned to them, but it's pretty shocking to see this in writing from the SSA. Getting back $780 for every $1,000 in benefits is not much better than my retirement losses of late, but the differences are that 1) my 403b investments are optional and 2) they could possibly recover over time. Social Security won't. The way things are currently set up, Social Security deductions are automatically taken from my pay--I have no say in the matter--in order to pay older people 100% of their investments.

Shouldn't I be able to claim older Americans as dependents on my taxes, then?

I'm one of the few people who don't mind paying taxes, but I want the taxes to pay me back in some kind of way. I really hope things will turn around for the country because, the way things have been for several generations now, lawmakers have put into action only short-term plans that pay off for them and possibly their children and leave future generations hanging. This is the same thing Americans have recently criticized China for doing--not thinking about the future. I don't have children, but I do worry about the stability of this country for those who do. And especially for myself, of course, since I am American, after all.

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