Us poor seniors

The following quote is from a NYT blog by Ezekiel Emanuel entitled Share the Wealth.

The story of older Americans is completely different. In 1959, over a third of those over age 65 were poor; today, only 9 percent are. Contrary to campaign rhetoric about old ladies on fixed incomes, many Social Security recipients are quite well-to-do: the median income of married couples between the ages of 65 and 69 is $61,000, and a quarter of these households bring in more than $100,000 each year.

This change is largely because of Social Security. What it means of course is that we have transferred wealth from younger to older Americans. The tax burden (nearing $4,000) on a typical family with median income of around $50,000 allows many of us seniors to do quite well. The median income for black families is $32,068.

All this and we get senior discounts at the movies, the bakery, public transit, many admissions, restrauants, golf, national parks, and we even get extra tax deductions. Talk about a world turned upside down on perpetuated stereotypes.

I wonder how many people realize that the Social Security benefit for a married couple can be as high as $48,000 a year for retirement in 2012. That is over 96% of the median family income in America or 76% of the average family income of about $63,000.

All you have to do to get on the gravy train is get old!



  1. To assume that all or even nearly all seniors are wealthy is ludicrous. Many of us have lost our retirements and life has happened to the rest. My household will never be wealthy–not now, not ever!


  2. I agree that the Social Security system and Medicare, serving primarily the over 65 population, both need to be revised if our country hopes to get out of the debt and deficit death spiral it is now in. It is crucial that the next President and Congress take up the Bowles-Simpson recommendatioins put forward in Decmber of 2010.

    I saw a billboard, a billboard !, advertising hip and knee replacement surgery yesterday.

    Who gets almost all hip and knee replacements? Who pays for them?


  3. The “Share the Wealth” article in the Times does bring up some good points especially about the stereotypical senior citizen. It also points up the fact that people don’t trust their government to do the right thing if they either pay higher taxes or forgo an entitlement. As for the rest of the article’s fairytale plan, “fugetaboutit …never gonna happen”
    My wife and I started retirement planning when we were in our twenties. When we reached minimum social security age we faced the choice to take it now or wait and get a higher benefit. All of the “when to take social security” articles in the financial columns seemed to say…wait and take the higher benefit.
    We decided to go against conventional wisdom and take the entitlement benefit at 62 betting that the most likely outcome is that “means testing” is in the near future. I still think that is the most likely.
    We have our own plan to share the wealth, the SS checks go directly to a separate account and are gifted to the kids and grand kids at Christmas


    1. Means testing is already here and has been for quite awhile. If your pension/investment income plus half of your SocSec add up to $32k (MFJ) then 85% of your SocSec is taxed at your marginal tax rate. That money goes back to SocSec, in effect lowering your SocSec amount due to you “means”.


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