Social Security has long earned its status as "the third rail of American politics"--touch it, and your political career gets electrocuted. But its immunity had seemed threatened during the Congressional negotiations over the federal budget deal reached Monday night. Leaks from the party caucuses and negotiations suggested that the agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling and remove some sequester caps would be paid for by cuts to Social Security disability benefits and Medicare.
In a speech delivered April 14 in New Hampshire, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed a large across-the-board cut in Social Security benefits that would primarily target poor Americans. In a remarkable bit of political salesmanship, he also managed to get this covered in the press as primarily a proposal to reduce benefits for wealthy retirees. The proposal is part of an effort by Christie, whose 2016 chances have dimmed considerably in recent years, to position himself as the Republican brave enough to take on the politically difficult fights the rest of his party won't. In recent years, congressional Republicans have decided to back off any cuts to Social Security — Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, for instance, simply punts on the issue altogether.
Today’s question asks if the Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) is recomputed for people who continue working past full retirement age. The answer explains how Social Security calculates your benefit and how frequently it does so, and reviews the benefits that you can potentially increase by continuing to work.
Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over two years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions. Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version.
Student debt isn't just a problem for Millennials. It's increasingly common — though still very rare — among the elderly, who have $18.2 billion in student debt, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office: The total amount of student debt held by people over 65 is still very small compared to the $1 trillion in outstanding debt. But it's grown rapidly since 2005. And the report says that most of these elderly debtors borrowed for their own education, not their children's or grandchildren's. Many of these borrowers are struggling to pay the loans back: more than half of loans held by people over 75 are in default, meaning they haven't made a payment in at least 270 days.
Your Social Security can be worth more in golden years' income than your 401(k) or individual retirement account. The trick: Know at what age to best file for benefits. Consider a married couple who both begin Social Security with a first-year combined benefit of just $23,304, based on the Social Security program fact sheet. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the average retired benefits recipient gets $1,294 a month and a spouse $648 a month. A retirement plan needs a value today of $543,147 to provide the same income as Social Security for the next 20 years. This assumes that each retiree in our couple lives an additional 20 years, during which each receives a cost of living increase of 2.
For some households, it makes sense for a worker to start reduced retirement benefits early in order to permit other family members to immediately start collecting Social Security benefits on the worker’s earnings record. The worker can then suspend his or her retirement benefit at full retirement age and start it up again at 70 at a 32 percent higher value after inflation. This is the Start-Stop-Start Strategy I discussed in a previous column. Let me share an example of this strategy, which is particularly interesting because it involves the family receiving seven different benefits. It’s a reminder of the need to understand all the benefits to which you may be entitled and the importance of correctly deciding exactly when to take each benefit. Let’s call the spouses ?John? and ?Jane?.
Slower growth in healthcare spending is shoring up the funding outlook for the federal Medicare program that covers hospital bills for the elderly.
As many of you who have been following my weekly Social Security column know, I’m absolutely outraged that we have a basic retirement system so complicated that no one can remotely understand it without years of study. This means that we Americans are flying blind when it comes to preparing for our retirement, with many of us over-assessing what the system will pay and others under-assessing what we’ll get. This produces under saving or over saving, neither of which is part of Social Security’s mandate. And it’s not just that the system is impossible to decipher. Its Byzantine provisions produce terrible inequities that virtually no one, including Social Security’s most ardent supporters, perceives.
The unseen hand of antigovernment ideology can be found everywhere nowadays -- even in your mailbox. The proof is in what you won't find there, like your annual statement of earned Social Security benefits. The government stopped mailing those out in 2011. It's also getting a lot harder to find Social Security field offices, or even to find someone to pick up the phone, as the Social Security Administration enters into yet more rounds of steep budget cuts.
With the April 15 tax deadline fast approaching, you probably have questions. Fortunately, we have answers. Every day until April 15, members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants have agreed to answer selected tax questions from USA TODAY readers.
There should be a rule--or even a law--that politicians who propose "fixes" to Social Security should at least show they know something about the program. By that standard, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would flunk. What's worse, his misunderstandings--heck, let's go ahead and call them misrepresentations--are aimed at taking your money.
The Social Security Administration's impairment listing manual (called the blue book) lists a number of impairments, both physical and mental, that will automatically qualify an individual for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), provided the individual's condition meets, or is equivalent to, the specified criteria for a listing.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took aim at the corporate-backed think tank Third Way on Thursday, deepening her feud with the group that attacked her Social Security plan in the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ op-ed said that Warren was ignoring Social Security's "undebatable solvency crisis."
Paul Ryan killed any lingering hopes of a grand bargain within moments of the budget conference kickoff on Wednesday. In his opening remarks, the Wisconsin congressman and chairman of the House budget committee laid down a firm marker against new taxes, which are essential to any major deficit reduction proposal that can pass Congress and be signed into law.
It's a big decision, one we'll all have to make: Should I take Social Security as soon as I'm eligible, at age 62, or wait till I'm 66 ... or even 70, when I would receive the maximum benefit?
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) broke from Republican leaders' rhetoric on Wednesday, criticizing President Barack Obama's decision to include entitlement cuts in his 2013 budget proposal. In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) chairman classified Obama's decision to include chained CPI as a move that comes "on the backs of seniors."
The cavalier endorsement of raising the retirement age by people who really love their jobs, who make so much money they barely pay Social Security taxes, and who are, actuarially speaking, ensured a long and healthy life, drives me nuts. There's no cut as cruel to the poor and as kind to the rich as that one.
As the Senate returns to Washington to debate how to reduce the federal deficit and avoid severe automatic budget cuts, Sen. Mark Begich announced a new bill to strengthen the Social Security program while making clear the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of America's seniors
Social Security turned 75 last week. It should have been a joyous occasion, a time to celebrate a program that has brought dignity and decency to the lives of older Americans.