Did the government make a Social Security goof?
Academics warn that agency officials are using outdated calculations and have severely overestimated the money available for retirees.
The fiscal cliff has been averted for the moment, and Congress is continuing its latest game of financial chicken with a new target in sight: the upcoming debt ceiling. But two academics say all this political brawling is taking attention away from another crisis looming on the nation's horizon: Social Security.
Samir Soneji is a demographer and professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, and Gary King is a professor of government at Harvard. On Sunday, the two boiled down their recent findings in an opinion piece for the New York Times.
According to King and Soneji, the Social Security Administration has grossly underestimated the money it needs for retiring Americans "to the tune of $800 billion by 2031, more than the current annual defense budget."
And if nothing is done, they say, the Social Security trust fund will run out two years ahead of current government predictions.
The professors say two major issues have led to these serious miscalculations.
The government’s forecasting methods for Social Security have barely changed since the program’s creation during the Great Depression -- "even as a revolution in big data and statistics has transformed everything from baseball to retailing."
And that outdated mode of forecasting, the professors note, has failed to take into account crucial factors about longevity -- especially the fact that Americans are living longer and healthier lives. Better treatment of cardiovascular diseases and a dramatic decline in smoking, they say, "are adding years of life that the government hasn’t accounted for."
The professors believe the nation faces some stark choices if Social Security is to be saved. Among the options they suggest are raising the retirement age to as high as 69 or 70, increasing payroll taxes, limiting annual cost-of-living adjustments and reducing benefits.
They also point to new research that suggests that retirement, while popular, may in itself reduce a person’s life span "by breaking lifelong routines and disrupting deep social connections." And with that research in mind, they wonder if retirement should be optional.
Given modern demographics and statistical analysis, professors Soneji and King think now is a great time to open a public debate about Social Security’s future. The constant political bickering in Congress may make this suggestion seem odd, they say -- but "the longer we ignore the problem," they warn, "the more disruptive any change will need to be to keep Social Security alive."
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1. Government workers should have to pay SS taxes just like the rest of America (isn't this a democracy?).
2. Demand, without exception, that the government pay back the billions it has borrowed from the SS fund over many years. If we take out a loan, aren't we obligated to pay it back? Somehow, they have to be made accountable and to pay back the money they "stole".
3. Do not allow millionaires and billionaires to draw from SS. Talk about waste!! Why do they need it? Is it greed? Of course it is!!
4. Non-citizens should not be given the privilege of collecting SS. AMERICAN CITIZENS SHOULD COME FIRST!!!
5. Children should not be allowed to collect SS.
6. When low-income seniors and truly disabled AMERICAN citizens collect SS, it's absolutely ENTITLEMENT!!
We MUST make sure ALL Americans are made aware of what the government has done with our SS dollars!!! It should be the headline in every newspaper in this country, in huge letters. The American public has to DEMAND that the government pay back to SS what they owe.
I absolutely disagree that social security beneficiaries should not get any cost of living raises!! A huge majority of these people (who, by the way, paid into SS during their working careers) are low-income, have more medical expenses, etc., than working Americans. Expenses are continually increasing across the board, year after year. Do the math people!!!
The selfish, wealthy people in this country have to step up to the plate and realize they are well off enough to forego SS payments. Also, they have to stop the nonsense of continually cutting benefits from the poor, disabled and seniors, while they do whatever it takes to hold on to every dime of their bloated and supercilious wealth!!
There's no reason any American should have to work till they are 69 or 70 years old. They need to clean up the waste and fraud and stop giving aid to these dam worthless countries that don't like us anyways! They give away billions that could be put to better use here at home!
911 was orchestrated by our government to bring forth Homeland Security. Obamacare was spawned to mitigate the SS problem by killing off the old people in the near future. Now that the government can regulate healthcare they can regulate lifespan; you can’t collect SS if you’re dead. Remember when Sarah Palin first mentioned death panels and the Democrats were all up-in-arms and nervously laughed that away in an attempt to discredit her, it was because she hit a nerve, a sore spot of truth that they didn’t like. She was right!
In the next ten years any babyboomers unfortunate enough to be on Obamacare will be dropping like flies.
Those that make statements like that, have no Idea, what it has been to work 50 years every day,
trust me I am more than ready to retire. I have no desire to continue to get up at 5 am 5 days a week, work for 9 hours then go home and crash. after 50 years it is time for me to have me time.
This whole SSI and Medicare financial problem can be fixed simply by removing the income limit.. right now if you make more than 108,000 you stop paying ssi and fdic taxes at 108,001, just remove that upper limit. let everyone pay ssi and fdic on their full earnings.. 90% of us make less than 108,000 anyway and we do pay ssi and fdic on 100% of our earnings. only the upper 10% do not.. so who are we protecting..???? such an easy painless fix, wonder why no one else in washington has come up with that Idea..????
In my lifetime, Social Security has been raided by Congress for cash so often that I've lost count. SS must stand alone and be left alone--hands-off!
We've worked our entire lives for this program, and it is a fair and workable program. Perhaps the most workable program in gov't history.
People living longer and healthier is not an excuse, but is a lie. Look again at all stats on that subject.
It used to be very difficult to get on disability. Now you just have to hire the right scum lawyer.
The same thing has happened to all the safety net programs. Once they were sane and limited now they are insane. The US Federal Government is creating the zoombies.
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