(Article changed on August 10, 2013 at 20:24)
It is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the Social Security. Will the system survive through 2033, the current drop-dead date for full benefit funding? Are cuts in the program really necessary? Is killing off Social Security the ultimate wet dream of sadistic billionaires without regard to the realities of the system? (Image)
The solution to the problems of social security is right before our eyes and nobody is talking about it.
Work is the new retirement
That's right. Long-term negative economic factors have created a survival path for Social Security. The negatives allow expanded benefits and assure the financial health of the system. As people keep working well past the assumed retirement age of 65, Social Security looks a whole lot better.
Why shouldn't people keep working? Which genius decided that we get to retire at any age, let alone 65? Retirement isn't exactly safe.
What economic factors provided this opportunity to secure Social Security?
Traditional pensions are a thing of the past. Those in place are subject to cancellation anytime. Just ask retirees who worked for energy companies bought by Enron or cities like Detroit. When the man doesn't want to pay anymore, it's over.
401k's were supposed to be the Promised Land for retirement. The average 401k for those retiring is worth about $25,000. Potential retirees approaching 65 with 10 years at a company have around $250,000 for retirement. That high water mark promises a decade of retirement for the employee and a spouse just above the federal poverty level of $20,000 a year for couples. Say the spouse has an equal amount in his or her 401k. That's a decade at twice the federal poverty level. What a deal!
Face facts. For the vast majority of citizens, there is no retirement option unless you take your $25,000 a year to a third world country, which, by the way, will not take your Medicare card.
It is no wonder retirements of any kind are dead. They rely on the stock market, which is here today, blown away tomorrow. A robust economy would help a great deal but we have chronic real unemployment well above the official figure. Rounding out the economic factors, accounting for inflation, wages have been flat for decades.
There is no room at the retirement inn.
Some attitude and policy changes that might help
We need to reframe (or revision, as they say) retirement. It exists only in the case of an inability to work. It's like welfare. If you're retirement age and indigent, give it a shot. Otherwise, keep going. What other choice do we have?