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Faith low in Social Security

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Retirement planning confidence in the future of Social Security is weak, with three out of 10 people believing they'll never be able to collect, according to a survey by, a website that provides legal information for professionals.

Another 31 percent are fairly confident that they will receive something from the program, while the rest are unsure. Even people 55 and older are not positive that they'll be able to count on Social Security in retirement, with 36 percent saying they lack confidence that the checks will arrive.

Warnings by the Social Security Administration and the Treasury Department that checks could be delayed if the debt ceiling isn't lifted don't inspire confidence. Before you panic, look at it this way:

Social Security is the most important program the country has. Nine out of 10 people 65 and older get a check. For those people, Social Security represents an average of 39 percent of their income. For 23 percent of married couples and 46 percent of unmarried people, Social Security represents 90 percent or more of their income.

Older Americans are reliable voters. I pity the politician who votes to do anything detrimental to Social Security. Even cutting benefits for some people or in small ways is politically unpalatable.

But we do need to make some changes. In total, 161 million workers are covered by Social Security. There are currently 2.8 workers for every recipient of Social Security. By 2033, that will drop to 2.1 workers for each recipient. You don't have to be a math genius to see that something has to give.

One solution that is often suggested is to raise or eliminate the $113,700 wage cap on which Social Security taxes are levied. We also could increase the wage tax on both workers and employers. Another suggestion is to make 100 percent of Social Security payments taxable; currently, a maximum of 85 percent of Social Security income can be taxed. We could adopt the chained consumer price index, or CPI, on which cost-of-living adjustments are based. That would slow the growth of the program and spread the pain around.

Nobody likes any of these ideas very much. All of them raise costs for somebody. But keeping the program solvent and the checks flowing is vital. We need our government leaders to understand that and have the fortitude to do something about it.

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October 17, 2013 at 10:59 am

FDR New Deal is not stealing from the treasury = billionaires are doing that ~ Sherman anti trust act if enforced will solve the problem ~ wage workers and independent small business struggle ~ the "security" of seniors and their value as honest citizens today and tomorrow requires strengthening social security and making billionaires and company such as GE pay taxes and accountable responsibility to USA proper

Marc W.
October 17, 2013 at 10:10 am

Another broken social program that we stupidly tied our hopes to. Anyone over the age of 55 who thinks they will see a dime from SSA is sadly mistaken. The ratio of employees to retiree is about 2 to 1. There is no "trust fund" as others pointed out. There's nothing left, other than to increase employee contributions from 13.5% (yes, you pay 13.5%, even if you think you don't) to nearly double at 25%, or to admit defeat and close the program.

I was very lucky to have a smart professor in college who showed us that we need to save for ourselves. I won't have enough, and I'll have to keep working, but at least I'll have something for my 55 years of effort. I feel for everyone who has not saved, and has not cut back on credit and debt.

50 years for a war on poverty, and poverty won. Now we are the Dependent States of America.

October 17, 2013 at 6:55 am

Sadly, I too do not think SS will be here for much longer, certainly not when I retire.(which will prob not happen anyway in this economy). What I have seen my parents get isn't enough to support one person much less two, and they did pay in all their lives.
The solution, I haven't one other than keep your own money and invest in something that will pay over time.'

October 17, 2013 at 6:47 am

How about stopping the politicians and our socialist government from dipping into the fund whenever they feel like it. How about having our politicians and our socialist leaders actually pay into social security like the working stiff they are suppose to represent.

Robert J. Paquin
October 17, 2013 at 6:36 am

It's not funny and not meant as a threat, but all the guns some are worried about are probably residing quietly in social security recipient's closets, garages, attics. Keep messing with the social security system and those in congress (always a small c) who advocate the second amendment and stripping the social security system in the next breath may think differently if those gun owners were staring at them rather than innocent children. Isn't that what you do to someone threatening your children, breaking into your home, or helping themselves to your savings?
It's not threatening or stalking. It's revolution!
And yes the limit for social security taxation should limitless since it already is for a person in the middle or lower income bracket.

Marilu Dittler
October 17, 2013 at 3:54 am

I too, in conjoinment with (James Ronald Taylor, Olympia, WA) would like an answer to why the Social Security Admin. pays income to non-citizens, when they have not paid into the system, or earned the right.

Marilu Dittler
October 17, 2013 at 3:50 am

Charlie, (Charlie McCarthy) hardly anyone gets Social Security Disability on the first go round. I am sorry to hear that you did not even get a reply. You will need to get a specialized Attorney to get your Disability, one who deals in Social Security Disability. In most cases they charge according to income, but it will be worth it. Please do not give up, and wait until you're eligible for regular retirement. You're as entitled as anyone, and if you qualify, as deserving to live out whatever remainder of life you have left in dignity and peace.

October 16, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Several months ago I applied for Social Security Disability due to a severe heart condition (Ischemic Heart Disease), Diabetes Mellitus Type II, and Chronic Lymphoidf Leukemia, and a few others that are to serious to mention. I feel that I will never get a dime of the money which I paid, and feel strongly it is in the interest of the Social Security Administration that they would appreciate and applaude my early death. However I have went back to work, working several 10 hour shifts per week, against the advice of my doctors, and family. The SS folks never even acknowledged receipt of my claim. Guarantees from our government no longer really exist for anything. I am kind of disappointed, but what to hell (over and out). Adios. Charlie

James Ronald Taylor
October 16, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Why does the United States government allow the people that are illegal aliens to receive unemployment-help from the social services-Medicare and Medicaid when they aren't even citizens of our country. A lot of people in the lines for these services can't even speak ENGLISH. I was born in the great state of Texas and am proud to be called an AMERICAN. Send them back home and help them to be self sufficient and be proud of their homeland. We are teaching them or most of them ways to live and take care of themselves here, so why can't they learn as much back where they came from? James Ronald Taylor Olympia Washington

gene bannigan
October 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm

there is no social security trust. all the money has been borrowed by congress with a 'good faith' promise to pay back the money. the trust is mt that's why we've been hearing SS checks may be delayed. if there was almost $2 trillion in the trust there would be no problem paying SS recipients. President Obama admitted this in an interview with CBS' Scott Pelley during a similar crisis in 7/2011 ... it's ez to find..the president notes that the coffers are empty. current SS is paid via tax receipts and monies borrowed from foreign nationals. SS income cannot cover these obligations without borrowing foreign. The 'DRAIN on SS' has been ongoing for many years.