Raising the Age of Social Security Eligibility?

We’re paying our Congressional Reps and Senators a handsome wage and even better health and retirement benefits to look out for us; so, it’s about time they got serious about doing the job we’re paying them to do, and fix this mess – so that we can have some modest assurance of financial stability in our retirements, too.

11885164_10154157348992908_2115962267242637017_nI agree with Bernie on most issues. Not quite so sure about this one.

There are really two gaps that need to be addressed:

First, Social Security in general is underfunded and additional revenues absolutely must be found if it is to remain solvent. The solution is clear and incontestable: raise the limits on how much of one’s income is subject to the Social Security tax; and perhaps even raise the rates, especially on those who have large incomes.

Second (and as is at the heart of this proposal) it has always been assumed that the taxes paid by workers retiring in the future would fund the Social Security benefits of those retiring now.  (Which further assumes that there will always be a significantly larger pool of those still working compared to those who are currently retired.)

These assumptions are no longer true: people are having fewer kids and are living longer, so there are simply fewer people to fund Social Security for those now retired (or soon to retire). The reserves that have been built up in the 80 years since Social Security was established were intended to smooth out and secure the fund’s cash flows over time, but were not intended to address such major demographic shifts, and so are rapidly dwindling as a result.

Simply raising Social Security taxes will help with this gap, too, but I am not sure that doing so will fully resolve the problem; and if not done right, will unfairly burden those with lower incomes. Further, and as this meme points out, is it fair to change the rules of the game on folks who have been working for decades under the assumption that Social Security would be there for them when they retire? I think not. Another possibility would be to curtail or eliminate benefits for those with large amounts of financial assets available to them in retirement.

So, should we raise the age of eligibility for Social Security benefits? I’m not sure, but I don’t think we should count it out entirely.  At the very least, it is not unacceptable to consider that those who will retire 30 or more years from now may need to work a year or two longer, especially if they are still in good health.  Back in the 80’s, the age limits were raised for those of us in my age bracket in exactly this way.  Why not do it again?

What is true is that the longer Congress diddles around without fixing this problem, the worse it will get, and the more burdensome the fix will be for those of us who will be relying on social security in our retirement.  We’re paying our Congressional Reps and Senators a handsome wage and even better health and retirement benefits to look out for us; so, it’s about time they got serious about doing the job we’re paying them to do, and fix this mess – so that we can have some modest assurance of financial stability in our retirements, too.

Copyright (c) 2015, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)

Author: Allen

A would-be historian turned IT Professional who responded to the call to the Ministry, and is now focused on social justice and community service. He is the proud father of a daughter and son, and enjoys life with his wife near Boston. You can follow Pastor Allen on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PastorAllenV/.

3 thoughts on “Raising the Age of Social Security Eligibility?”

  1. I think there is a pretty easy fix. Raise the limit of income that is taxed to infinity, or at least up to whatever Warren Buffett and Bill Gates make added together. I don’t think it will be necessary to raise the percentage of income taken.

    Historically, istm, whenever things have been tough, as they have been since the Bush II crash, there has always been a movement to blame immigrants for our difficulties and to reduce the number of people coming into the country. Cutting back on people coming here to work is the opposite of what we should be doing. We should be adding as many people to our work force as possible. Letting as many new young people on to our work force as we can would fix the problem of not enough workers to pay for the current retirees’ Social Security entitlements.

    IMO, it makes no sense to force people to work beyond age 65 – or maybe 62 – when there are so many younger people unemployed and so many others underemployed.

    George Desnoyers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point George: At the very least, those who are already here as “undocumented workers” SHOULD be paying these taxes. If doing so were enforced, it would eliminate the incentive for employers to pay under the table (while providing no benefits), as well as improving the cash flow within Social Security and Medicare systems


  2. There’s a way to raise Social Security taxes without burdening people with lower incomes, and that is to raise the cap on taxable earnings. Currently it’s about $115,000–it’s adjusted for inflation every year–which means that any dollar earned past that cap is not taxed. That also means that FICA is not a flat but a regressive tax i.e. higher incomes pay a lower percentage than lower incomes do.

    Liked by 1 person

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