There's a fascinating article on the Yahoo finance page about social security with a bit about the Simpson-Bowles Plan. As we mentioned in our book Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff (published at the end of 2012), we can't count on the government for support as we age. This concerns me a lot now that I am nearing my age for withdrawing social security.
Have you noticed all the advice on the financial sites in the last few years? I've yet to see one that doesn't tell you to wait to withdraw your social security benefits. Sure you'll get a few hundred a month more if you wait (they specifically tell you it is 8% more per year), and the math is correct. Figures don't lie, but liars can certainly figure. Yes, it's true that waiting will give you a larger monthly paycheck, and if you can wait - like you are still working - then maybe go ahead and wait. But Social Security payouts were designed to give you the same total by the time you die, so you don't get a net gain until you are in your eighties, and that doesn't take into account the investments you might make.
I don't want to sound like I believe in conspiracies, but the government is the one who benefits most if you delay taking your Social Security. For one thing, our government representatives can kick the unpopular decision of how to fix the system down the road a bit. They don't need to worry about their retirement, after all. I'm pretty sure they don't have the same system citizens do.
I plan to get my social security the minute I qualify for it. I'll spend it while I can, invest it if I'm able - but I'll get it back in my own pocket as soon as possible. I don't want the government to handle my money any more.
I don't mind the Yahoo article. Social Security has long needed reform. It's a Ponzi scheme of the highest order - and if it wasn't the government, the people who ran it would be jailed for the rest of their lives. What I object to is a little sentence in the fourth paragraph: "Graham wants to address the problem now and get entitlement funding in place for generations..."
Do you see it? I put the key word in bold and italics. Government officials - and our government of the people, by the people and for the people - is starting to spin the tale that social security money is entitlement.
That's my money. I paid into the Social Security system for over thirty-five years. I wasn't given an option. I had no say how the money was used. They took it directly from my paycheck and charged my employers for the privilege of doing so. Then they managed the money poorly, just to add insult to injury.
Yes, Social Security needs to be modified - the simple mathematics is obvious to anyone. But don't go telling me it is an entitlement. Don't forget where the money came from - my pocket - and it wasn't a donation. It was supposed to be an investment in my future.
We need to keep watching our government, keep watching the people who represent us, keep watching the people who stand apart from us and delegate financial rules they don't have to follow themselves. Now we need to watch carefully the words they use when talking about our money. If we don't, they'll rob us of what is ours.
And we'll have none to blame but ourselves.