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Getting to the Truth: How Strong is Social Security Anyway?


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The number one news headline grab this month isn’t the Kardashians or Donald Trump. Nor is it Spieth’s distressing loss at the Open Championship by one stroke. Surprisingly, according to BuzzSumo.com some of this week’s top trending news headlines sensationalized Social Security. 

This Week’s 5 Top Trending Virtual Social Security Headlines:

  1. 6.5M Social Security Numbers Linked to People Aged 112 & Up95.7K shares, Fox News  
  2. Puerto Ricans who can’t speak English qualify as disabled for Social Security76.4K shares, Washington Post 
  3. Warren: ‘The GOP is inventing a Social Security crisis’, 62.7k shares, MSNBC 
  4. Obama admin looks to ban some Social Security recipients from owning guns61.5K shares, Fox News 
  5. Bush: Retirement age should be Phased into ’68 or 70’57K shares, Thehill.com

No doubt, we all hear hundreds of alleged complaints about the Social Security program. The headlines listed above make that crystal clear. But Americans have, in essence, purchased the coverage of Social Security and its protection. So despite all the saber rattling and political conflict the program finds itself surrounded in, Social Security is alive and well and continues to offer startling strength. Finally, a positive headline for Social Security!  

It is true that Social Security checks come from our government, and many individuals consider them to be a handout or benefit, especially young workers who look at their deductions printed on each paycheck. However, the fact remains that every working American has purchased their Social Security benefit, by paying into it their entire working career.

Social Security Payments: Inflation Proof

Your savings account, checking account or certificate of deposit at your local bank may not keep up with inflation, but a monthly Social Security check will. Social Security payments are inflation proof. Every year the consumer price index is applied to monthly Social Security benefits. This prevents the erosion of your monthly benefit, making it a fixed-dollar endowment that is locked in for life.

When reading your news headlines regarding Social Security, be leery of political moves that would reduce the COLA (Consumer Price Index to an inflation rate minus 5%). Over time, if this were to pass, your own Social Security check would significantly lose its buying power. 

Social Security Is Insurance, Not Welfare.

Social Security is not a public assistance program, although many of this week’s headlines treat it as such. Social Security is a social insurance program. The argument that Social Security is not public assistance can be made because Social Security benefits are not calculated on a needs basis. They are calculated by the amount of money you earned during your working years and your age.

Social Security originated as a savings program for taxpayers. Some political types are calling for this to be changed. Be leery of political persons who suggest eliminating or reducing a Social Security benefit for retirees with an outside income. Social Security was purchased in advance by each worker. Working beyond retirement age should not be considered when calculating one’s age and contributions to the program.

Part of Social Security’s strength is based on the facts that age and contributions to the program are concrete. These two concrete qualifications are easy to assess. Probing into need is not required and never should be required. 

1970’s – The Social Security Storm Front

In the late 1970’s, Social Security fought quite a tempest. News headlines predicted that the program would soon run out of money. Congress voted to “fix” the squall between 1977 and 1983, yet the program remained in deficit. Finally in 1983, Congress voted to raise taxes and cut benefits in an amendment to The 1983 Social Security Act. The program has been running in a surplus ever since.

Reformers predict that the program will remain stable until the year 2037. Although the threat could emerge 22 years from now, we can see that political moves are being made today to reform Social Security. While a solution for long-term solvency should be worked on, we all need to be leery of today’s headlines that report individuals who want to modify the Social Security program claiming there is fraud, a financial crisis, or that benefits can be held because of any reason, including the ownership of guns. These are simply non-related red herrings that plague our political stage.

The truth is, Social Security is strong, sturdy, resilient, and worth protecting.

In fact, it is your duty to maximize your own Social Security benefit. Make an appointment to seek professional advice in this matter. Talking to a financial advisor that specializes in Social Security is the first step to a complete and robust retirement plan. 

Countless questions arise with regards to individuals’ Social Security benefits. With so much at stake, the most valuable asset to understand in your retirement portfolio is your Social Security benefit. As always, our advisors are happy to discuss any of these items with you. If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a visit, don’t hesitate to call our office at (952) 460-3260.

For more information on Social Security, explore our free Social Security Kit or calculate your own Social Security benefit by clicking here.

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