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Understanding Social Security

Before we get started, I would like to know how you feel about Social Security. If you would rather not take the poll, just skip it.


Social Security is one of the Most Successful Social Programs

Over the years, corporations have destroyed retirement dreams by eliminating defined benefit pension plans. But social security continues to pay full benefits. Today the program is under attack from Wall Street, the Republican Party, and even some Democrats. They want the dismantling of Social Security to begin in the very near future.

Social Security should not be privatized as some people in congress are proposing. The benefits should not be cut and the retirement age should not be raised. The program has paid every nickel it has owed to every eligible American.


Social Security, Established 75 Years Ago

Before Social Security, half of the elderly lived in poverty. Today, we have a lot of people who are still in poverty, but that number is nowhere near 50 percent as it was before. That number today is less than 10 percent. Social Security provides dignified support for those in need of care.

Misinformation About Social Security

There is a ton of misinformation that is floating around about social security. That includes, the program is in crisis; going bankrupt, and the trust fund contains piles of worthless IOU's. Congress is proposing the following:

  • Privatizing the system
  • Lowering costs of living adjustments
  • Cutting benefits
  • Weaning everyone off of the program except current retirees
  • Increasing retirement age to 69
  • Reducing benefits to future retirees who make as little as $42,000.00 per year.

You can read my hub on political spin for more information about how politicians spin the facts.

Social Security, the Facts

  • 2037 - The year when social security will not be able to pay 100% of benefits, but will able to pay out 78%
  • 2.6 Trillion - The amount currently in the Social Security Trust Fund
  • 4 Trillion - The amount Social Security is projected to grow by 2023

Social Security invests in U;S. Treasury bonds that are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The program has not contributed one penny to the deficit because it is funded by payroll taxes.

Here a link to Frequently Asked Questions about the Trust Fund.

Why do they Want to Change Social Security?

There is a huge influence by Wall Street to privatize Social Security because it stands to make billions in profits by exploiting the novice investor. The "Less Government Movement" does not feel the necessity to provide retirement benefits to the elderly or those with disabilities.

Just think about your 401K or retirement program and how it fared during the financial melt down. Just think if your social security fund would have been invested in Wall Street. It is important to note that Social Security is not an investment, it is an insurance.

Social Security is not Bankrupt

Contrary to popular belief, Social Security is not bankrupt. In fact, Social Security does not need to be saved until 2037 when there will be a 22% gap in what is taken in and what will be paid out. Here are two numbers you need to know:

  • $106,800.00 - Annual pay cap, where if you earn that amount or more, social security payments are no longer withdrawn from your paycheck
  • 6.2% - The tax on payroll to cover social security. If self-employed, it's 12.4%. The tax is known as FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act)

Senator Bernie Sanders' Proposal

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont proposes, by removing the $106,800.00 cap, this will then capture the super rich who can reach that cap in a blink of an eye. That means, the super rich will pay into the program for the full year instead of up to the $106,800.00 cap. This will accumulate more money in the fund. Removing the cap would make Social Security solvent until 2085, as calculated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). And, it won't affect those who's annual pay never reaches the cap.

This is a very simple solution to save Social Security and requires very little legislation. Please contact your congressman on this issue to save Social Security. To find contact information, please click on the link below.

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eMail from Bernie Sanders 8/16/2012

In these highly volatile economic times, when millions of Americans lost their life savings in the 2008 Wall Street crash, it is important to remember that since its inception, through good economic times and bad, Social Security has paid every penny owed to every eligible beneficiary.

Despite Wall Street and right-wing misinformation, Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax, does not contribute to the deficit. In fact, the Social Security Trust Fund today, according to the Social Security Administration, has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay 100 percent of all benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years. Further, unlike the huge commissions paid out to Wall Street firms, Social Security is run with very modest administrative costs.

Despite Social Security's popularity and overwhelming success, we are now in the midst of a fierce and well-financed attack against Social Security. Pete Peterson, the Wall Street billionaire, has pledged $1 billion of his resources to cut Social Security and other programs of enormous importance to the American people. Other billionaires and Wall Street representatives are also working hard to weaken or destroy Social Security and endanger the well-being of millions of Americans. We must not allow their effort to succeed.

Let us never forget that the current deficit of $1 trillion was primarily caused by two unpaid-for wars and tax breaks for the rich. These policies were strongly supported by "deficit hawks." The deficit is also related to a major decline in revenue as a result of the Wall Street-created recession. The deficit is a serious issue, but we must not move toward deficit reduction on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. This would not only be immoral, it is bad economic policy. At a time when the wealthiest people in this country are doing phenomenally well and their effective tax rate is the lowest in decades, the top 1 percent must begin paying their fair share of taxes. At a time when large corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits, we have got to eliminate the huge corporate loopholes which result in a massive loss of federal revenue. At a time when we have tripled military spending since 1997, we must take a hard look at a bloated and wasteful Defense Department.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has been a proponent of privatizing the retirement program by putting seniors' savings into risky Wall Street investments. Even before tapping Ryan as his running mate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he wants to begin the process of privatizing Social Security. He also would gradually increase the retirement age to 68 or 69. And he favors slowing the growth of benefits for persons with "higher incomes." Under a plan floated by Romney's allies on Capitol Hill -- Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) -- someone making about $45,000 a year today who retires in 2050 would receive 32 percent less in annual Social Security benefits than under the current formula. By that definition, the top 60 percent of all wage earners would be considered "higher income."

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, was a staunch defender of Social Security in his 2008 campaign. So far this year, however, Obama has refused to stand behind his four-year-old opposition to cuts. In fact, the president has signaled that he may be open to lowering benefits by changing how they are calculated. In my view, it is long past time that the president told the American people in no uncertain terms, as he did in 2008, that he will not cut Social Security on his watch.

To keep Social Security's finances sound in the future I have introduced legislation -- identical to a proposal that Obama advocated in 2008 -- to apply the payroll tax on incomes above $250,000 a year. Under current law, only earnings up to $110,100 are taxed. The Center for Economic Policy and Research has estimated that applying the Social Security payroll tax on income above $250,000 would only impact the wealthiest 1.4 percent of wage earners.

Those who want to cut Social Security benefits are looking at a number of proposals. One of the most talked about ideas is moving toward a so-called "chained-CPI," which would not only impact seniors, but also military retirees and those who receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The "chained-CPI" approach changes how the Consumer Price Index is calculated, so that a person 65 years old today would earn $560 a year less in Social Security benefits once they turn 75. Benefits would be cut by nearly $1,000 a year once they turn 85. Instead, I have proposed legislation to base Social Security cost-of-living adjustments on a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, a measure that would increase benefits because it would take into account the real-life impact of rising health care costs and prescription drug expenses paid by seniors.

While we often take Social Security for granted, we must not forget that Social Security today is providing dignity and security to tens of millions of Americans. It is a program that is working and working well. We must stand up today, on the 77th anniversary of this enormously important program. We must pledge to continue the fight against the right-wing Republicans, some Democrats and their wealthy backers who want to destroy the program.

Contact Your Congressman

  • Contact Elected Officials | Contact Elected Officials -- Locate e-mail and mailing addresses, phone numbers, and more for your local, state, and federal officials.


Brad on February 09, 2018:


You continue to always distract, the ME if you don't know is not relevant to answering the question.

FERS or SS which would you rather have.

A 20 year defined benefit plan, that is vested.

Or a life time never ending SS as long as you earn a wage. Non vested, and can be terminated at the whim of congress.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on February 09, 2018:

Brad: Who is ME? Is that you?

Brad on February 06, 2018:


Wouldn't you rather have FERS like your bud ME than SS.

Brad on December 14, 2017:


Thanks for the update. The taxes from people in the private sector who don't have the same benefits available to them as government employees is unequal and because it is the govt doing it, it should also be unconstitutional. The same is true for having higher marginal tax rates for people with higher incomes. As I mentioned, these higher tax rates are ineffective because of all the tax avoidance contained in the Internal Revenue Code.

In 1986 Regan promised lower taxes, but it also includes middle class workers losing the few tax deductions they could use. The 1986 Tax Reform Act did lower the taxes, but it didn't last long.

The govt employee benefits are huge, and they require a lot of taxes to pay for them. It is also inequality to have public servants having better benefits and retirement than those in the private sector. It should be unconstitutional, again because it the government doing it.

That is why all the wage earners in the country need equal opportunity for these benefits and no one should be forced to participate in a mandatory tax. The young should not be burdened by those retiring from the system.

A national tax system like those found in most of the states would be equal. Any arguments against it would already be addressed at the state level.

Under NTS, there would be no Tax on Income. Therefore most of the Internal Revenue Service including its private Tax Court could be downsized. There is no reason for the Income Tax to be so complicated requiring many people to use a tax preparer and keep all those financial records. That to me is involuntary servitude.

Yes, I agree the country needs to get revenue for the services they provide the people and the country, but it should be done effectively and with equality.

Giving govt workers these expensive and excellent benefits including job security is not equal.

Actually, the other problem with the government is that they don't actually have control of the money supply. That is in the domain of a private entity called the Federal Reserve Board.

We the people are actually paying the FRB to dole out our countries money. Why is that bad, I would cite that the 2008 economic failure could have been averted had the FRB raised the interest rates as they had done. But they allowed the rates to stay low, and these creative but weak home loans were allowed to hang on. That is any increase in the interest rates would have turned the loan upside down. That is how bad they were, especially the negative amortization loans. The banks and the other lenders bypassed their conservative lending practices and gave loans with little to no equity, and in the case of negative amortization, negative equity.

I will look at your article, after I post this comment.

Mike, I am not trying to convince you, I proffer this information to share what I know about it and hope that you can exchange your view on it.


Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 14, 2017:

Brad: You are welcome. However, my point is all income/revenue that the government receives can be thought of as taxes. It is just a matter as to how it is apportioned to pay for things including FERs. The government does not create products. However, it does create money by selling bonds. It controls the money supply by selling and buying bonds. Here is an article that I wrote a few years ago that shows where the government income comes from and where it goes.

Brad on December 13, 2017:


You got the idea. That is great. My point was to bring the issues out and give people some food for thought. That FICA is a tax, and Obamacare is a Tax. They are not the great ideas of the government, but now we are dependent on them.


Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 13, 2017:

O.K. You are saying that the public should be on the same program as FERS instead of social security. Maybe they should. But I also know that every decision has its trade-offs and without doing the research and analysis, I don't know what those trade-offs are. Also you want smaller government so the public pays less in taxes. O.K. that's a great thing. What do you want me to do about it? What are you going to do about it? What is your end game in this debate? I just agreed with you. But I have a life outside of hub pages and right now I don't have time to do the research and analysis of FERs.

Brad on December 13, 2017:


You always do the same thing, when confronted with arguments you can't counter you blame me. We will never agree because you don't have any valid arguments. You always through the stuff back at the Republicans. I don't have to defend the republicans. In fact, I won't because it takes both D and R to make bad government decisions.

I can't be wrong if you don't have any compelling evidence to show me why and how.

The young people are paying for your SS like you did before you retired. That is not the government paying for SS, it is the wage earner. Ponzi Tax Scheme.

And with FERS they are using our tax dollars to treat gov workers like the Master and not public servants.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 13, 2017:

I'm through. I'm not going to argue with you. Obviously, you have your values and beliefs and I have mind and never the two will meet.

Brad on December 13, 2017:


Red Herrings are not answers to my detailed comments. I am not a Republican and neither is Trump.

Otherwise the Republicans in Congress would be working with Trump.

You never answer the questions posed to you.

Your last comment is just a drive by shooting, and it didn't hit anyone. Try again.

BTW, the democrats started this tax crap in 1913, then they added the SS TAX in 1937, and Medicare in 1965, and Obamacare in 2010.

But it couldn't have happened without the continued cooperation of the Republicans. It takes 2 to tax.

I will say it one more time, the unequal tax and wealth distribution is a function of the internal revenue code. It doesn't matter what the marginal tax rates are for the rich, the Internal Revenue Code is a Get out of Tax free card.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 13, 2017:

Here is a fact of life. The republicans are always touting smaller government. However, you should know that government is not self-purging. It is self-nurturing.

Again, smaller government is another pipe dream. When republicans, talk about smaller government, they are talking about reducing entitlements which are just a very small percentage of the total budget.

As far as not being able to afford to pay taxes, why don't you talk to Trump and company. They are going to increase the national debt by a trillion dollars with their tax reform and think that we are going to pay to fund their expenses.

But they cover it up by saying that the revenue will come from the super rich. Again, another pipe dream. It doesn't trickle down, it goes up to the stock holders and board of directors and sideways to unnumbered Swiss accounts in the Cayman Islands.

Brad on December 13, 2017:

What does that mean to personally vest?

Brad says--- That means unlike SS your contributions are separate from the others.


The third rail in the republican agenda has always been and will always be to privatize social security. That's when the creepy crawlers come out to take advantage of those who are not astute at investing.

Brad says -- So you like it that the federal government treats their employees like family, while they treat the rest of us like the fools. People shouldn't be forced into participating in the SS tax plan.


This is the title of your article: "Social Security and Medicare along with Obama Care are just TAXES." Everything that the government provides is just taxes. That is where the revenue for the government comes from to provide services for the people. The idea of trickle down economics is just a pipe dream from the time of Reagan. It never has worked and only benefits those who don't need the money.

Brad says --- That is the problem, The federal government is too obese and flatulent and because of that they need more and more taxes from the people. The founders of the country need envisioned a large central government. That is why we are called the United STATEs. Taxing a workers lifetime to get something at the end of their life is nothing more than paying taxes. A plan similar to FERS would not only have defined benefits from the beginning, unlike SS which changes the rate of contribution as well as the size of the benefits.


Where do you think the money comes from to fund FERS? It comes from our taxes. Just like everything else the government provides. The government does not produce a product, it provides services.

Brad Says ----

What has never happened is the government significantly reducing their spending.

Brad says --- That is the problem, they are reward government employees while treating the wage earner tax payers like servants, giving them scraps.

Why should the taxpayers pay taxes to give government employees retirement, medical, and other benefits that the private sector, nor do the government plans actually give them.

Services are questionable, and government spending should be in line with those services. Too much of our taxes go to make the government a royalty. A government should lead the country in being cost conscious, not in being opulent.

The point is that isn't of only raising taxes because of over the top spending, they should be cutting the size of government and spending.


Brad says-- The ever increasing size and scope of the government requires enormous amounts of new taxes. How are the young people as well as the people under 40 going to benefit from something that is 30 to 50 plus years away. And if you look at the history of SS, you see how it has increased the tax, and the benefits has not providing anything but supplemental expenses. The death benefit is still $255 compare that with FERS.

With all the talk the left has made this century about Equality, why are private sector workers not getting equal retirements, health care, and other work benefits. If the answer is that the private sector companies can't afford it, then the retort is neither can the taxpayers afford it.

--And it is still a Ponzi scheme because it requires the young people to pay for those that are retiring.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 13, 2017:

Where do you think the money comes from to fund FERS? It comes from our taxes. Just like everything else the government provides. The government does not produce a product, it provides services.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 13, 2017:

This is the title of your article: "Social Security and Medicare along with Obama Care are just TAXES." Everything that the government provides is just taxes. That is where the revenue for the government comes from to provide services for the people. The idea of trickle down economics is just a pipe dream from the time of Reagan. It never has worked and only benefits those who don't need the money.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 13, 2017:

What does that mean to personally vest? The third rail in the republican agenda has always been and will always be to privatize social security. That's when the creepy crawlers come out to take advantage of those who are not astute at investing.

Brad on December 12, 2017:


Here you say "To keep Social Security's finances sound in the future I have introduced legislation -- identical to a proposal that Obama advocated in 2008 -- to apply the payroll tax on incomes above $250,000 a year.".

This is another reason why SS is a Ponzi Scheme. And as the $250K salaries are tapped the retirement benefits will not be commensurate with the contributions.

Brad on December 11, 2017:


Feel free to comment on my article on SS Medicare and Obamacare

Brad on December 11, 2017:

I have written about FERS, just ask MyEsoteric.

The point is that FERS is great SS is not for the reason I mentioned. Tell me why you didn't comment on my take on SS. It can be read and understood without knowing about FERS Federal Employee Retirement

I never said to make it a personal investment, I said it should personally VEST and your contributions to any date are yours to take with you.

This is not 1937 and there is no great depression, so why are we stuck with this ponzi scheme. It is a ponzi because it requires new blood to keep it solvent. Investing in the Treasury is too ROI to support the eventual benefits to be paid. Please reread my comment for details on why SS is so bad.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on December 11, 2017:

Brad: In today's world, no one can live on just social security. Today, it is used as a supplement to other retirement income. I don't see it as a ponzi scheme no more than any insurance where premiums are paid is a ponzi scheme. FICA is like an insurance premium. I don't know anything about FERs, but I will trust your knowledge of it.

The problem with personal investments replacing social security is that most people are not that sophisticated with investing. And every creeping crawling financial advisor will take advantages of those without the knowledge to invest safely.

Why don't you write an article about FERSs and submit it to congress? Thanks for dropping by.

Brad on December 11, 2017:


SS may not be bankrupt, but it is a ponzi scheme that requires new people into the system to pay for those that are retiring.

New wages earners coming into the workforce today and in the coming years have to wait more than 50 years to get their retirement benefits.

While government employees, the public servants, get what the people should be getting for retirement. Check out FERS.

BTW, in the 80s the congress in order to stop the SS bleeding added the government workers. Yes, in addition to FERS, a Defined Benefits Retirements program, they also contribute to SS, but to them it is a bonus.

Government FERS is vested for the employee, SS is not vested and it can be eliminated by congress any time. Not a wise choice if they want to get reelected, but nonetheless they could do it.

The death benefits for SS have not changed since 1937, $255.

The contribution period for FERS is 30 years or less, not the lifetime contribution for SS. The congress wants to move retirement age to 70 years old to keep the SS payouts lower.

SS contributions don't ever stop as long as you earn a wage. And if you are receiving additional wages while you are receiving SS retirement benefits, it can be added to your AGI.

The government employee FERS Defined Benefits Pension is managed by a private firm. SS is managed by congress. FERs puts all the employee contributions into the employees account. SS doesn't, the employee only gets credit for a portion of the years they have contributed. The average SS payout is between $1100 and $1800, with a high somewhere in the mid $2000s. None of this is enough of a sum to really live on. And while the government gives higher salaries, and living expenses depending on where the employee is in the country. SS is given the same amount where ever you live, regardless of the cost of living in your area.

The SS is not a benefit to the young in the workforce. And it is not really fair for the American people to give such expensive benefits to Government Employees, while not getting them to the private sector.

Government employees get the most holiday, personal and sick days. Also, Defined Benefits pension (look it up), the best health care insurance plans when they are working and when they retire.

This inequity should be leveled and have any of the benefit plans available to the government employees available to everyone. The government benefits are unfunded liabilities that keep increasing our taxes.

Don't confuse the necessity of SS benefits to the elderly the same as it being a great plan. It is most likely that these people didn't have the opportunity to get addition retirements such as IRAs and 401K plans.

Why should people younger than 40 years old want SS rather than a plan like FERS. The government created this elderly Drug of SS, and they should continue to pay the benefits to those retired or shortly to be retired.

For those between 40 and 70, they should calculate their SS benefit and put it into an escrow account or give them a one time pay off. No one asked to participate into SS, they were forced to pay this tax.

For the people younger than 40, a new plan like FERs should be able to take what was FICA including the employer contribution and put it into a private employee retirement fund.

How good of a system is it that requires new workers to pay for old retiring workers.

Perpetuating this Ponzi scheme is like keeping drug users on drugs. To pay for the inequity of SS, the government must also change FERS into the same system using the same rules.

The same is true of Medicare and compare it with government FEHS!

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on September 18, 2012:

ThinkN-Do: Alright...see great minds think alike!

ThinkN-Do from Pac NW on September 18, 2012:

The senator must have read my mind. I have been suggesting this idea since who knows when (at least a couple decades). In addition, no one who receives a paycheck in the USA should be exempt from making Social Security payments. The Government retirement programs need to be re-evaluated, the FERS basic benefit should be abolished. I have no issue with the TSP, as it is similar to a 401K with a non-gov't employer.

Brad Masters from Southern California on August 22, 2012:


You continue to evade giving answers.

The point is that the SS system is a TAX revenue, and both parties have kept it going as a revenue device.

SS is a poor system for retirement, it is open ended, it is only applied to wage earners, and the government employees don't need it, but we could use their pensions.


joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 22, 2012:


Yes it is the house bill. However in the Amendment, that paragraph was not amended or referenced so it still stands

This is what Obama signed.


Para b has a shall - shall is a command not optional

The are now writing the defining legislation for the IRS and SS administration.

Larry Wall on August 22, 2012:


As I have said before, it is going to be the rules that dictate what the bill actually does and those rules, to my knowledge have not yet been drafted. The language you quoted has a lot of mays and shalls. As I sure you know, may means that it is not required. Shall means it is mandatory. We have the framework, but the house has not been finished.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 22, 2012:

Joe: What you are quoting is the house bill, not the final legislation that was passed. That's what HR stands for House of Representatives. After a bill passes the house it has to go on to the Senate for further approval. I'm sure you know that already. What I have provided is what the final legislation is, and that is what is on the website link that I gave you.

joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 22, 2012:


Here is a direct quote of what your law makers wrote in HR 3962

The monthly premium charged to eligible individuals for coverage under the program—

(A) may vary by age so long as the ratio of the highest such premium to the lowest such premium does not exceed the ratio of 2 to 1;

(B) shall be set at a level that does not exceed 125 percent of the prevailing standard rate for comparable coverage in the individual market; and

(C) shall be adjusted for geographic variation in costs.

I mean no offense and I understand 2nd party sources are often used for research. But if you want the full truth, only information from the first party is fact.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 22, 2012:

U TURN HUB PAGES: Thanks for the comments. I hope this proves to be informative for you.

U TURN HUB PAGES on August 22, 2012:

Great work and i must take the time to re read all the way. Thanks for insight and the time you spent working on this page and research.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 22, 2012:

bworthington: That's an excellent point. Research should be done to see what their benefits really are and then write a hub about it. Thanks for the comments.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 22, 2012:

Joe; This is right out of my hub and right out of the legislation:

Premium Review Laws

"Your insurance company can’t raise rates by 10% or more without first explaining its reasons to your state or a federal Rate Review program. Your Rate Review program will determine if the rate increase is unreasonable. A rate hike is unreasonable if, for example:

It is based on faulty assumptions or unsubstantiated trends.It charges different prices to people who pose similar risks to the insurer.

Your state regulator can approve or reject an unreasonable or excessive rate increase, if your state laws give the regulator this authority."

joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 22, 2012:


That link is government spin. That doesn't mention many things like insurance companies are allowed to raise your rates by 125% and over 20 new taxes.

It's a bear to read but the truth is there in HR3962.

bworthington from Ft. Lauderdale on August 22, 2012:

A very simple way to get these programs that the middle class depend on fixed: Require ALL politicians to receive the same level of benefits the rest of the middle class receives.

We would see how many of these "conservatives" would be against government health care, or how many of these fiscally responsible deficit hawks would support moving their retirement funds to the private sector.

As far as I'm concerned it makes no sense for the people who work FOR us to get better benefits than we do, and then argue that our benefits are the reason the country is insolvent.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 21, 2012:

Joe: what you have cited is the House Version of the bill. Here is the link to the real bill in easy to understand format.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 21, 2012:

ib radmasters: As my dad used to say: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." That applies to both of us!

Brad Masters from Southern California on August 20, 2012:


I go through the trouble of giving you details and you don't respond to those details. Apparently, you have no real arguments other than liberal political talk.

The issue is Social Security and whether it is the great system you claim it to be in the beginning of your hub.

Sure you count on it today, but it is a lame system as I described in detail in my original comment.

You probably paid into SS for over forty years, now is that really the best plan. I don't want to repeat myself here. I have hubs where I detail my arguments. Don't bother to read them.

There has been no compelling arguments made in this hub that shows that SS wasn't a real bad idea.

As for Ryan, he won't make a bad system worse, but Obama has already made Medicare worse, and it will make it more difficult for you to find doctors willing to take Medicare.

joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 20, 2012:

Your reference to Obama Care:

" I know this. Before Obama care, you could not get insurance if you had a pre-exsisting condition. Insurance premiums were sky high and there was a huge donut hole for prescription drugs"

Affordable Care Bill HR3962

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 20, 2012:

Joe: I looked for reference to a bill in your comments. What bill are you talking about?

joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 20, 2012:


I will tell you what I told Larry: Read the bill! The insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have been let off the hook. If you read the bill I guarantee you will change your statement.

A bad system just got worse.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 20, 2012:

I am more concerned about the transfer of wealth that was created as a result of deregulating the financial markets. All it takes is one person at the bottom signing a mortgage agreement and the ensuing chain of events causes billions of dollars to flow to the top. Have a good day tomorrow.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 20, 2012:

Joe: If you want to have a disdain for the government, go ahead. I know this. Before Obama care, you could not get insurance if you had a pre-exsisting condition. Insurance premiums were sky high and there was a huge donut hole for prescription drugs. I guess you should enjoy the good parts and learn to live with the bad parts. My wife and I have been retired for five years. We look forward to our social security checks that always get auto-deposited, the third Wednesday of every month, like clockwork. We supplement that with income that we get from other investments and we live comfortably. Even our health care with medicare and SS suplement is getting better, because Obama is starting to close the donut hole for prescription drugs which lowers our out of pocket expense for drugs. We also get free medical physicals every year.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 20, 2012:

Larry: My wife and I have been retired for five years. We look forward to our social security checks that always get auto-deposited, the third Wednesday of every month, like clockwork. We supplement that with income that we get form other investments and we live comfortably. Even our health care with medicare and SS suplement is getting better, because Obama is starting to close the donut hole for prescription drugs which lowers our out of pocket expense for drugs. We also get free medical physicals every year.

joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 20, 2012:


They lied to us about so many things from smoking to global warming to the unemployment rate and financing. I'm just sitting back and watching it collapse everyday.Not very optimistic.

A good night to all.

Larry Wall on August 20, 2012:


Any system that is administered by any government, federal, state or local, is going to be subject to inefficiency and other possibilities. That is the nature of the beast. Therefore, give me something better than Social Security. I know all the complaints. I have my own share, but I am more than reasonably certain that when I retire next year or in five years--might have a job in a few days--the money will be there and that check will come for the rest of my life. By supplementing that with my investments in my 401K, plus the house is paid for, my tax rate will be lower, etc. I will be all right. My 401K is invested in a guaranteed plan. My wife will either draw on her own or she will draw half of my benefit, whichever is greater. It may not be the best system and Congress may have misused the funds, but money can be replaced. We need to demand it from the Congress. Enacting a whole new system, especially now when we are fighting the health care issue, is just not the thing to do.

joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 20, 2012:


What I don't like is corrupt politicians taking my retirement funds and squandering it. But these same politicians have the best retirement plan paid for by the same people they were supposed to protect SS for.

The only fair option is an "opt-in" system. It is the best way to meet all the peoples needs. But then again, I don't trust the government to do the right thing. Their track record is horrible.

Larry Wall on August 20, 2012:

No one has shown me a better system that everyone can understand. Individual accounts where the individual decides how his money will be invested is not for everyone. Probably, everyone on this Hub could manage such an account and make money. However, if the market crashes the day before you retire, what are you going to have? It is basically a defined benefit plan, expensive to maintain, but provides a greater level of assurance. Should the plan be adjusted in some way to provide more income--absolutely. Should the burial exemption be expanded--makes no difference, that was just something that was added on, and I do not think anyone depends on that to cover burial expenses. Show me a better system that everyone can understand then I will listen to you. My mother collected a $50,000 life insurance policy when my father died. She thought she was a millionaire. She could not understand compounding of interest and different investments. She died 10 years later. There was no inheritance for her three children. She did not owe us one, but had she lived longer; I do not know how we would have cover her medical care. She died of ALS in a nursing home. Medicare would not pay for the inhalation therapy treatments because she was not in her own home. Whatever plan you come up with should not allow lump sum withdrawals. We had a defined benefit plan and a 401K plan at my last office. The defined benefit plan was shared by four affiliated groups. People in their late 60s started drawing out huge lump sums. The plan was under funded and while my office could had paid its share, two of the other offices could not. We had to close it down and make smaller lump-sum payments to the remaining participants.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 20, 2012:

joer4x4 and ib radmasters: If you guys don't like it. You can always wait for Paul Ryan's plan. Then you you will be able to make your own investments based on market dynamics and deregulation...good luck!

Brad Masters from Southern California on August 20, 2012:

The maximum benefit depends on the age a worker chooses to retire. For example, for a worker retiring at age 66 in 2012, the amount is $2,513. This figure is based on earnings at the maximum taxable amount for every year after age 21.

That means working at the max for 45 years.

The SSA actually needs at least 35 years to calculate your amount.

Then when you retire and work to pay the bills, you once again contribute to SS. If you make too much money then they deduct from the $2513. Great system, and your family will get $255 when you die.

That amounts to $30,156.

Brad Masters from Southern California on August 20, 2012:


I agree with your comment.

I understand that some people need SS but I don't understand those people that think it is a great system.

joer4x4 from Philadelphia, PA on August 20, 2012:

For starters SS takes in less than it pays out and there is no interest coming back on those treasury bonds.

Have you taken a look a those bonds lately? They're at an all time low paying only pennies on the dollar. No investors has been buying them. Only the Fed to prevent financial collapse of the government.

QE1 & QE2 were bout printing money and giving it to banks. The money circulates back to the Fed and government.

Back in the 80s congress robbed the fund for over 2 trillion dollars and has never paid it pack. Since then it has been in the hole.

There is no "full faith of the US Government". The government's financial status is very weak. Most bonds are returning less tham 1%.

I kinda remember Obama saying SS checks won't go out unless the debt ceiling is raised. Obviously then, money must be borrowed and the debt increased to pay for SS. No debt eh?

Money printed by the Fed (banking system) and given to the government is keeping SS and many other government projects alive along with account tricks. Your next check is a Chinese loan or electronic money.

I would strongly suggest going to the government (and Fed) web sites and studying the published spreadsheets. They tell a different story altogether.

You don't have to believe me. But if you really want to know the truth - you'll do your due diligence.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 20, 2012:

Larry Wall: Peace!

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 20, 2012:

ib radmasters: Unfortunately, I can only speak for myself and for those I know who are receiving social security. I realized that social security payments were only a supplement. I'm 73 and have been retired for 5 years. We have other investments that generate income for us as well as social security. Having said that, SS payments are a constant that we look forward to every month, while the other investments subject to the vagaries of market dynamics. Thanks for your input.

Larry Wall on August 20, 2012:


FERS is probably going to be eliminated in the next couple of years and it should be a phased out elimination.

The 40 quarters for Social Security is what you need to draw the maximum benefit based on your contributions to the system. The more years you work, the greater your benefit. The amount you pay after retiring, is based on your benefit, which is most cases is much smaller than your paycheck.

No one has the answers to the problems we are facing. It is going to take years to straighten it out. You cannot penalize people for taking a benefit they were promised. So those that are receiving FERS and or about to retire, should be allowed to do so and receive what they were promised.

I will always opposed individual retirement accounts for Social Security. Everyone is just not able to manage money as well as others are confused by investment opportunities. Those people need to be protected by being a part of a system that is consistent.

I know you disagree. So, let's not start a long exchange. Let's just agree to disagree. Certainly you are allowed to offer a rebuttal, but I have said everything I need to say.


Brad Masters from Southern California on August 20, 2012:

Here is the problem with Social Security

It is a wage earners tax, that didn't apply to congress or government employees when it was created.

Now it includes government employees, but they don't need SS, as they have FERS with its taxpayer guaranteed defined benefits pension. So while private 401k lost money in the economic collapse of 2008, the government pensions didn't lose a penny. That is because the taxpayers made up not only for the loss in their pension fund but also gave them a cost of living raise.

The SS benefits are needed by today's seniors that have retired, or are about to retire. The problem is that their benefits as a sole income are at the poverty level.

In addition, they will continue to contribute to the SS as long as they earn a wage. In fact, if they earn too much the SS will reduce their benefits.

The other problem is that SS is unfair as it requires to pay the TAX for as long as they earn a wage, even though the benefits only require 40 quarters.

The reason that it should be privatized is to make a system similar to the government system which is a real pension. The split to private would be determined by setting an age at which someone can switch to the new pension. Continue to pay the benefits to those already getting them, and for those who are too old to make the switch but have not yet retired.

The age of retirement for full benefits with SS has been creeping up from 65 to 67 and higher. Contrast that with government employee retirements that range from 55 to 62, or even younger. Some government employees have retired from several government jobs, and have several government pensions.

Then there is the SS death benefit of $255, need I say more.

The biggest problem is that the congress views the SS tax as simple treasury fund with no real tie to actually having it to be self sustaining. So they use that money for their pet projects and pay practically nothing for it.

The biggest problem with SS is that congress and government employees have a real pension system, and get great expensive healthcare benefits, so they are not dependent on SS. To them SS is chump change, as many of their pensions are close to what they made when they were working for the government.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 19, 2012:

Larry Wall: Thanks, that is exactly my point to Davesworld. Thanks for your comments and I hope things work out for you.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 19, 2012:

Davesworld: You are very fortunate and probably an astute investor, but there are many working people who are probably not as good at investing as you are who would be subject to the exploitation of brokers and financial planners. Along with privatization comes deregulation which would just open the door for all kinds of creepy crawlers to take advantage of novice investors.

Larry Wall on August 19, 2012:

I had a 401K program at my office that was doing pretty good until the crash in 2008. I lost about a fourth of its value, which is better than a lot of people did. I had recently changed my investment strategy to something more conservative. If that fall had come one year earlier, I have no idea how much I would have lost. I am not in favor of privatizing Social Security. Depending on how long you live and how long your spouse live, you stand a very good chance of getting all your money back. My family does not have a history of longevity. However, my wife's family lives for ever. She has eight uncles. Three are dead. The last one to die was 95. The oldest is 99 and the baby of the family is 89. Her mother is 90 and has been a widow for more than 10 years living off of her late husband's survivor benefits for his pension and Social Security. He worked in the private sector for several years. I think Social Security will be paying full benefits after 2037 or whatever year they are claiming. I will not be here to see it, but I think better times are ahead, regardless of who is President.

Davesworld from Cottage Grove, MN 55016 on August 19, 2012:

My private investments - 401(k) and IRAs - have done much much much better than the puny 1-2% yield on my Social Security taxes. Privatizing a Social Security like system works wonders in Chilie. I wish I had had the option of privitizing it back when I was still working.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 19, 2012:

Davesworld: You said that you trust your money is being invested in capital goods when you put it in the bank. One of the reasons, banks are not loaning money today is because they can earn more from your money by investing in derivatives like mortgage backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps that bet against other peoples investments. The credit default swap market is 60 trillion dollars world wide today. This is one of the factors that caused the financial meltdown. Because when interest rates were raised to the point where people could not afford their house, they walked away from them. And these markets came crashing down like a house of cards, because their wasn't anything tangible to back them up. It's all very abstract.

In any case, I would rather have the social security system today than privatize my investments and lose my ass. Whether there is an actual trust fund or not is not really relevant. For the last 75 years, whatever you want to call it, it has paid every single penny it has owed without losing a payment and I believe it will continue to do so until 2037, where it will still pay out 75% of the payment.

If Paul Ryan's plan is adopted, you will have the chance to privatize your social security, if you so desire and there will be no trust fund, just you and the whims of market dynamics. I'm 73 and I enjoy my social security payments just the way they are.

Davesworld from Cottage Grove, MN 55016 on August 19, 2012:

When I invest my money in , oh well I'll remain a homer, 3M lets say. There actually capital goods which I purchase a wee teeny tiny part of those capital goods - machinery, buildings, land, etc. When I invest my money in a government bond all I am getting is a promise to pay me back out of future taxation. Not quite the same thing. A promise, in the case of Social Security where the Supreme Court has already ruled that Congress can change the rules and/or ignore the promise whenever it wants to.

When I put my money in the bank, I realize that a large share of it is invested in other things, but I trust the bank to invest in capital goods - like houses, cars, farm equipment, etc. - where I have a reasonable expectation of actually getting my money back. When I invest in a government bond the best I can hope for is that the need to manufacture money out of thin air when it comes time for the government to pony up won't have too big an impact on the rate of inflation.

Don't put your faith in the, for all practical purposes, non-existent Trust Fund. If you are still working do your damndest to be able to retire without Social Security because that is you best bet for financial freedom.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 19, 2012:

NateB11: I agree with you, it almost begs for the barter system. But I think we are too far along on this abstraction. Today, money can be created and destroyed in the blink of an eye that can have a global impact...and it's all ones and zeros. Thanks for dropping by. You have given me something to think about.

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on August 19, 2012:

Money is a strange abstraction that everyone has agreed to go along with; at some point, I always come to that when the issue of "where to put the money "abstraction comes up. It just makes me wonder why we still do things this way. If someone is starving, they need food; it is bizarre that instead it becomes an issue of money; it's not logical and the two things are not actually connected. I realize that's not a political argument, but it's true nonetheless

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 19, 2012:

If you look at it in that sense, that's how this country operates. The debt ceiling is nothing more than a credit card where the money has already been spent and raising the debt ceiling is just a way of saying raise my limit on my credit card so I can pay for what I already spent. But the country has no money, it creates money and controls the money supply by buying and selling bonds. There is no money. However, by the great means of computers and ones and zeros, they can make money appear.

When you deposit money in your account, do you think there is a physical account that you can put your hands on where the money stays there? No it's loaned out at interest and when you go to redeem it they look at computer with a bunch of numbers and those numbers get translated to tangible money. You don't have an account. It's the same thing with the trust fund. By law, they have to make good on that money that is accounted for. The CBO projects that in 2037, they won't be able to make good on 100% of it, but they will be able to make good on 75%. This can fixed very simply by removing the cap from the $106,800 annual limit.

Davesworld from Cottage Grove, MN 55016 on August 19, 2012:

More to the point, Peoplepower, it is you who are deluding yourself that the Social Security Trust Fund actually exists. Excess Social Security revenues are spent on the same day they are received. They are spent on tanks, jet aircraft, atom bombs, congressman's salaries, fuel for Air Force One, ... It's gone. Look at what I quoted to you - the money is indistinguishable from other general revenue. IT IS SPENT.

The fiction of the Social Security Trust Fund is akin to the following. Suppose you want to buy a new computer and it costs $1,000 so you have been saving $100/month to afford it. But eight months into it your water heater goes out and you need to a new one and it costs $800. So you take the savings to buy the water heater and you leave your self an IOU for the $800.

Do you actually still have $800 saved for the new computer? Two moths from now will you be able to pay cash for the machine? Is your IOU of any value?

The government "investing" in it's own Treasury Bonds, regardless of how fancy-dancy, is the same thing as described above. Basically it's meaningless. The only advantage that the government has over you when it writes itself an IOU is that when push comes to shove, the government can always manufacture money out of thin air - you can't do that. But that doesn't mean that the government's IOU is worth anything because it's not and never has been.

The Social Security Trust Fund has been a lie from day one. Both Republicans and Democrats have lied about it and continue to do so. Every p[resident from F.D.R. forward has lied about it. There ain't no such animal as a Social Security Trust Fund - it's fiction.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 18, 2012:

Davesworld: You must have missed this part: "By law, income to the trust funds must be invested, on a daily basis, in securities guaranteed as to both principal and interest by the Federal government. All securities held by the trust funds are "special issues" of the United States Treasury. Such securities are available only to the trust funds.

In the past, the trust funds have held marketable Treasury securities, which are available to the general public. Unlike marketable securities, special issues can be redeemed at any time at face value. Marketable securities are subject to the forces of the open market and may suffer a loss, or enjoy a gain, if sold before maturity. Investment in special issues gives the trust funds the same flexibility as holding cash." If you want to believe there is no trust fund, that is your perogative.

Davesworld from Cottage Grove, MN 55016 on August 18, 2012:

And here is the key point (quoting from the S.S.A. FAQ) "Tax income is deposited on a daily basis and is invested in "special-issue" securities. The cash exchanged for the securities goes into the general fund of the Treasury and is indistinguishable from other cash in the general fund." Or in other words, they are spent immediately. Consequently, in the final analysis, there ain't no Social Security Trust Fund, the money has been spent.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 18, 2012:

I have added a link in this hub about Frequently Asked Questions about the Social Security Trust Fund.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 17, 2012:

NateB11: I just finished reading Paul Ryan's 65 page plan. He wants to invest portions of people's income in to bonds and equity that have been approved by a government panel. i can see it now, the government panel will probably be paid off by the wall street brokers. Thanks for the comments and stopping by.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 17, 2012:

Davesworld: Here is everything you wanted to know about the trust fund but were afraid to ask. Thanks for the comments. I had to do the research.

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on August 16, 2012:

I would hate to have the security of my later years in the hands of Wall St. Yes, Social Security is insurance, not an investment, so that we don't starve and become homeless as we age. You're right, it is time for those with more to contribute; we have made them rich, we have paid into the kitty: It's their turn. Great Hub!

Davesworld from Cottage Grove, MN 55016 on August 16, 2012:

There ain't no such animal as a social security trust fund. It has all been "invested" in government bonds and the government has already spent the money.

Here's how it works: Suppose Social Security revenues come up 10 billion short this month. A Social Security employee takes a bond over to the Treasury department and redeems it for 10 billion. Since the Treasury is empty it has to borrow the 10 billion so the U.S. ends up another 10 billion in debt.

Suppose instead that there ain't no trust fund and Social Security is still short 10 billion for this month. The Treasury goes out and borrows 10 billion and hands it to the Social Security Administration which leaves the U.S. another 10 billion in debt.

Hard to see much of a difference between having a "Social Security Trust Fund" and not having one. Unless, that is, you think moving a piece of paper around between two buildings in Washington D.C. actually means something.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on August 16, 2012:

I just added news from Senator Bernie Sanders about how Paul Ryan's budget plan affects social security and is funded on the backs of the middle class and the poor.

Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on July 10, 2012:

Larry Wall: Yes social security is what politicians call the third rail. I hope it all works out for you. I started drawing social security while I was still working and then I increased my 401K to the max. It worked out really well for me. But that was before the financial meltdown.. Thanks for the votes and dropping by

Larry Wall on July 10, 2012:


I found your hub to be very good and very much in line with the research I have done. I am 61 and unemployed. I plan to start drawing next year. Also, with the genetic traits of my family, it would not be wise to wait until 66.

I do not think Social Security is ever going away. It is the most sacred of all the political sacred cows that come before Congress. I do favor raising the limit on which Social Security Taxes or pair, or enacting a lower rate at some point to be paid on a person's entire earnings, after the regular threshold is met. This would add additional funds to the system.

Good up, voted up, interesting and useful.


Mike Russo (author) from Placentia California on January 26, 2012:

Wheel,Thank you for your comments. I read your profile and thanks for the tips on SEO. I can't wait to read your hubs.

Thanks for SHARING

Dennis Thorgesen from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on January 26, 2012:

Although this information is truthful it hurts our business. Many baby boomers are now going into business. They are making the right decision but for the wrong reason. Their belief there won't be money for their retirement in the social security system.

The truth is by going into business they will be assuring that there is enough. It is people paying into the program which keeps it solvent.

We don't agree with allowing social security being privatized. Our beliefs are let the people vote for a raise in the amount of deductions if that is what is necessary to keep social security intact and viable for the next generation. There is no company or corporation which will keep the needs of the people in forefront as well as the people themselves. Our government at times forgets it is "for the people by the people".

Bing Denolo-Chavez on December 18, 2011:

Thank you Mike for explaining the real state of Social Security. Have you not written this, I would have believed in what I always hear from politicians mouths.

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