For the past few presidential election cycles, candidates from both political parties have campaigned on the promise of: “saving Social Security.” These have been empty promises as evidenced by the fact that nothing has been done. Social Security will celebrate its 75th anniversary in August 2010. It was created by a law that was signed into existence by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression. It currently offers retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to 50 million people.
Over the next several years approximately 80 million “Baby Boomers” will be entering the phase of their lives that will see them begin receiving Social Security benefits. For Social Security, the “Baby Boomers” have been a blessing because of the hundreds of billions of dollars they have contributed through payroll taxes. Now that the first of the “Boomers” have begun receiving Social Security benefits, an anticipated strain on the system is getting closer to becoming a reality.
Predictions of both the Social Security system collapsing and predictions of it surviving have been made by various “experts” for years. By 2017, Social Security will begin paying out more than it collects in payroll taxes. In the beginning, the ratio of people paying into the program versus the people receiving monies from the program stood at 16:1. By the end of the “Boomer” retirement cycle that ratio is projected to be 2:1, or two people paying into the system to every person receiving benefits.
Will Social Security exist when you are ready to retire? Yes, it probably will exist, but if your retirement is 10 or more years in the future, the program may not exist in the same form it does today. Changes are coming; it is just that no one can speak definitively as to what those changes may be. They will be under control of future political leaders when they are able to muster the courage to touch that “Third Rail,” called Social Security reform.
One day in the future congress will be forced to step up to the plate and “save” Social Security. It will be a crisis when that time comes. It will be a crisis because congress will have procrastinated for so many years, that by the time they finally get around to addressing it, the problem will be monumental. When finally addressed, it will certainly be accompanied by political finger-pointing, incessant acrimonious rhetoric, and political jockeying. Unfortunately, the longer congress refuses to address the problem, the worse the problem will become. It is sad that congress refuses to lay political advantage aside and make an honest non-partisan attempt to do something that truly would benefit American peoples’ future retirement funds.
Jesus warned his disciples to be as: “…Wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16. Be judicious with your retirement accounts. Be circumspect with your spending, and continue putting as much into private retirement accounts as you possibly can salt away.