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Archive for the Social Security Category

May 1, 2020

Social Security, Medicare, Veterans’ Benefits: Please Don’t Call Them “Entitlements”

Im entitled!
“I’m entitled!”

Social Security. Medicare. Veterans’ disability and other benefits. For tens of millions of Americans, they’ve come hard earned: through decades of work, hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll tax payments, and through the sacrifice of health, mobility, sight, or other basic bodily functions most of us take for granted. These government programs are all that stands between many Americans and abject poverty.

For some politicians and opinion makers, however, they’re “entitlements,” or even “entitlement spending.”

Words mean things. They also imply and suggest things, often covertly. These words provide a particularly disturbing example of just how damaging a hidden emotional message that flies under the radar of critical thinking can be.

“Entitlement” sounds innocuous enough, but it’s objectionable because it conjures up the image of a privilege that neither was earned nor is really needed, but that the recipient refuses to forego because he or she is—well, entitled.

“Entitlement spending” takes this line of thought a step further. It suggests—and is intentionally portrayed as—a troublesome class of government programs that mindlessly crank out, as if on autopilot, ever increasing sums to the “entitled.” The high cost of these programs, so the reasoning goes, depletes the government’s coffers, and makes it necessary to cut funding in other areas where it is more urgently needed.

In reality, the exact opposite is true.
[Read more]

April 11, 2020

When should you start taking Social Security benefits?

It’s a perennial question. When you reach age 62, you can apply for Social Security benefits, but they’ll be significantly reduced for life. Or, you can wait until you’re old enough for full benefits (a sliding scale between ages 65 and 67, depending on when you were born). Which is best?

The question isn’t easy to answer, since it depends, among other things, on the age of your future demise. If you die at age 64, you’ll get nothing if you wait. But if you last to age 100, you’ll suffer 35 years of reduced benefits for the sake of a few years of payments early on. Where’s the break-even point?

You can spend hours poring over Excel spreadsheets if you want. But according to The Center For Retirement Research at Boston College, there’s a way you can have your cake and eat it too
[Read more]

April 6, 2020

Pooh-poohing the impending Social Security and Medicare crisis

Head in the sand

Tens of millions of baby boomers are approaching retirement age. Over the course of the few decades, this enormous segment of the population will stop contributing to Social Security, Medicare, and private investment programs. It will instead be drawing upon these institutions to the tune of trillions of dollars. This will result in enormous dislocations for the economy as a whole, shaking its very foundations. Still, some people—like deputy assistant secretary of the Navy Russell Beland—insist on sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that the problem will go away by itself.
[read more]

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