Social Security

Social Security facts. Setting policy with the wrong facts.

Progressive politicians like to throw around “facts” especially to promote their cause for “more” of anything, especially more spending on needy Americans.

Perhaps the best known fact is the average Social Security benefit used to promote the need for higher benefits in the future and a higher cost-of-living adjustment.

The fact is the estimated average monthly Social Security benefits is $1294 or an annual benefit of $15,528. Low, but above the poverty level. However, that average is quite meaningless for setting policy or changing Social Security in the future. That average includes people who have been retired for decades, who took benefits early voluntarily, etc.

If you are 67 now and collect your full benefit and earned $60,000 in your last year working, your monthly benefit is $1683 or $20,196 and if you are married, your family income from Social Security is $30,294 even if your spouse never worked. The current maximum benefit is $2,642 or $31,704 PLUS another 50% for a spouse. Both amounts for family income are more than half of the average household income in America.

Social Security was never intended to be the sole source of retirement income. To make policy on that assumption or on manipulated statistics is plain wrong in my opinion. To promote policy that encourages anyone to rely more on Social Security as a primary source of income in the future is unfair to everyone.

When I was managing a pension plan we would occasionally provide an ad hoc cost of living increase when it was called for and affordable. However, when we did we skewed the increase to the oldest, hence lowest income people who received the largest percentage. Those who had retired within five years received no increase AND funding for the increase was obtained before it was announced. Now that same employer no longer provides pension increases. Why? Because employees who retired since the mid 1980s have a 401k plan with a good employer match in addition to a pension. In other words, they are receiving their future COLA while they are working assuming they participate in the plan. That is setting a workable, affordable policy which shares responsibility for retirement income.

Compare that with policies put forth by some politicians who simply think “more” is the answer. The same politicians who have for years ignored the Trustees urging to fix Social Security sooner rather than later.

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Following are the full set of statistics from the Social Security Administration.

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