Although Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law In August of 1935 the seeds and were planted in the previous decade.
During the 1920's Americans in general and politicians in particular were less than concerned with social programs of any sort. Sports, fads,
prohibition and extreme financial speculation dominated the decade.
Black Tuesday, October 29,1929 was the day the stock market crashed and as the roaring twenties faded into memory everyday Americans
plunged into the deep abyss of what historians call the Great Depression.
Panic and deflation fed off one another fueled by 9,000 American bank failures. Unemployment increased a whopping 607% and those that took the brunt were the elderly.
Yet with a nation suddenly finding its citizens tossed into abject poverty Congress bickered among themselves, imagine that, and finally nearly six years after the crash found compromise. The powerful triumvirate of Labor, Industry and Government melded together and formed a system based on a solid underlying philosophy,
independent funding from its citizens all with an unprecedented nationwide scope.
By any measure Social Security has been a terrific program during its eighty year existence. While created to protect against the "vicissitudes" of life, it now protects and pays millions of Americans a monthly paycheck.
Social Security is not a welfare program as workers have a portion of every check held for future payments.
The delicate issue now in 2015, is that there are fewer workers contributing. Unfunded social security obligations are now measured in trillions of dollars. As a population many Americans will average twenty to thirty years in retirement.
Our country clearly has a major retirement problem and one that gets bigger everyday. Reforms to social security need to be made now; hopefully raising payroll taxes will trump cutting benefits but that may be wishful thinking.
For most Americans the assurance of receiving future social security payments is age dependent.
Studies have shown seniors are somewhat confident, people in their thirties and forties much less so. Generally, there are exceptions, benefits can be requested at age 62. Yet full benefits depending on the year you were born begin at age 67. Often a difference of hundreds of dollars in your monthly check by waiting to file.
Sadly the Social Security "rulebook" is some 827 pages long and when you inquire via phone you will normally find a polite person who by law, cannot give advice!
Once you file for benefits you have one twelve months to reconsider, after that you have no recourse on your decision.
As an example, using simple dollars, a person who at full retirement age (67) would receive $1,000 per month, would only receive $750 if they filed at age 62. Yet waiting until age 70 the monthly amount would be $1320.
In conclusion, social security was never intended to be the sole source of retirement income but merely a supplement. Clearly Americans must self fund a large portion of their retirement in order to maintain their standard of living.
A mistake many commit is focusing on asset accumulation rather than an income stream that they cannot outlive. The earlier in life we start planning for retirement the better, but it is never too late. There are terrific financial vehicles that can provide a guaranteed lifetime income, many tax free.
Whether your goals are to travel, golf, fish or chase your grandchildren
speaking with your local professional can ensure your retirement will be a successful one!
Social Security - Seeds of Change