25 May 2011

Go Ahead, Make Me Wait

Dear Reader,

Judging by my followers, at least half of your are Social Security and Medicare proximal. That is, if they are not eligible, they are not far off either. I am eight years away now, just to be open and all that.

Anyway, with all sorts of talk about Medicare and Social Security these days, and politicians hand-wringing on one side or the other, I want to say something as a GIT, geezer-in-training.

Make me wait longer.

Social Security was designed to provide support at a time when the average life span was about the same age as eleigibility. Today, the average lifespan is nearly 80. Social Security was never meant to be a long term thing.

Congress started dealing with this a while ago, but most people still look forward to collecting Social Security as soon as they can.

Man Up, folks. I say move it to 70 for everyone between 50 and 60 now, 75 for those between 40 & 50 and the 80 for those 30 & 40. And no 'early retirement' either.

Also, raise the ceiling on SS taxes. Right now, anyone who makes more than $137k pays no FICA or SE taxes on the amount above that figure. Why?

The idea is that social security would be a "dollar in-dollar out" program. I think the American people would welcome that, even if it meant waiting longer and paying more. We don't mind paying for what we buy, as long as the rules are clear and everybody plays by them.

You probably know more than me about whether this would work, so feel free to correct me. But do the ideas work - everybody wait longer and everybody pay for it? Tell me.


Dwight Dettloff said...


I believe the "ability to pay" doctrine should hold in this argument. Also, does it make much sense that a person making $200k in retirement also collect $40k in SS? My opinion is no. While they don't necessarily receive much benefit since it pays for some of their tax bill, that money could be better used than going from one government pocket to another.

But what do I know...

WFW said...

Point taken. How about Social Security being a 'supplement" that makes sure you have more than the poverty level. Say you retire and all your 401k and stuff only pays out 30k and the poverty level is 40k. Social security would kick in the rest. If you received more than the poverty level, you don't get because you don't need.

Biggums said...


Well, Blogger has failed me yet again. I had just typed out a lengthly response to your post and when I went to post it Blogger lost it and it cannot be retrieved. *sigh* I will attempt to paraphrase.

Let me preface my comment by acknowledging that I do not know much about social security. At 28 years old, I haven't been forced to think about it that much but your post did get me thinking...

As with all other tax situations, I agree that folks in the higher earning income brackets should be required to pay the same (or more) percentage than the rest of us. For those who "benefit" more from our capitalist economy more is expected. and rightfully so.

I applaud your willingness to work longer and postpone your own social security benefit to lessen the strain on an already suffocating program. However, I think applying such a high standard to American workers from all ranges and branches of our society is unfair.

The social security program was birthed with other FDR programs, correct? At that time most jobs were fairly labor intensive and life expectancy was shorter it made sense to ask workers to work only to 62 or whatever it was at that time. Years of physical labor work takes quite the toll on the human body!

I would suspect that as our economy has gone from one of manufacturing to technology that the nature of some jobs has changed. Folks my father's age and demographic (white, male, 50's, educated) find themselves at desk jobs. Strenuous, yes, but not physically demanding. As long as he remains healthy, he will be mentally capable of performing his job duties well into his 60's and possibly even 70's. Fortunately for him, and many white-collar workers, he has had the opportunity to prepare well for his retirement. I imagine his senior years will be quite pleasant and he would do just find without any SS benefits.

My generation, on the other hand, is in quite a different position. Most of us are absolutely crippled with college debt (we are talking tens of thousands of dollars) that we were promised would increase our earning potential but has done little for us (with my Master's degree I make LESS now than I did the summer after i graduated high school....but have all the college debt and a FAMILY to maintain now!) Planning for our retirement is absolutely out of the question and will likely remain out of the question for the next 25 years as we try to manage our ways through student loans, mortgages, credit card debt...etc. With what is being predicated about the social security system in the future, there will be little available to us even if we work well into our 70's. It is as if we live our lives paying back the system: first 25 years for college debt and the next 25 years for social security benefits which will be minimal and unavailable to us until our seventy's...

Biggums said...

...So enough of the pity party about my own situation and generation. My other concerns about your standard is the strain it puts on low-wage income workers and those who have lived life on the verge of or in poverty. Lower paying jobs actually tend to be much much more physically demanding. I never worked harder in my life then when I made minimum wage at McDonalds when I was 16!! Thankfully my family had the means to send me to college so I could avoid a life of physically intensive work. But many folks are not so lucky. They remain in these positions for years and years and the toll in takes on their bodies is amazing. My mother is a nurse and has been for decades but all those 12 hour shifts is literally killing her at 58. To ask her to work 50+ hours a week for the next 15 years is just cruel. Even now, she has no medical benefits and her medical problems are increasing. Medicare cannot come soon enough but will likely come too late to prevent many health problems.

Does any of this make sense? I guess what I am saying is that my concern rests with the poor (who tend to be mostly minorities in this country due to years of a corrupt system) and I think we need to be saying "work harder and longer" less and seeking a way to get them out of a system of overwork and oppression sooner. We can't all be healthy, wealthy, white-males in white collar jobs, after all and the system should not be designed around such.

I look forward to hearing a response! Thanks for letting me explore my own thoughts on this issue.

Sara Sander

WFW said...

Nice comments, Sara. Going to have to chew on these, not because I disagree but because complex problems may need more than one answer. Even Social Security does not pretend to be a complete pension. That too many people have only that says more about how badly we treat working people than it says how inadequate social security is.

You mentioned Medicare. Like the fake president Matt Santos, I would just make Medicare the national system. Everyone would be in it, everyone. There would still be private insurance, like all those medigaps, but the basics would be there for everyone.

But I have to keep thinking on this. Thanks for making me do it.

Biggums said...


Thank you for your response. Yes, complex problems may need more than one answer. I find it is easy to be critical of the present systems and programs in place but I'm not so good at offering better solutions or answers. I realize I don't propose an alternative system or way because, frankly, I have no clue. This stuff is just beyond me!

But what does seem like a obvious fix to many of these issues would be a universal Healthcare type system as you proposed. If only we could get there...