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How Do We Save Social Security?
By no means am I going to claim my solution to the Social Security crisis is any feat of genius. It is not. In fact, the following proposal to solve the Social Security crisis is simply common sense. It's the kind of common sense that most politicians seem to lack because there is absolutely no reason for us to gut Social Security or to switch Social Security contributions to private accounts. Social Security works just fine the way it is in principle and only a small, albeit political distasteful tweak, is needed to keep it going.
The problem: In its current form, Social Security will go bankrupt by the year 2037, which is the year the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted.
The solution: Raise the retirement age gradually to whatever point is required to keep contributions exceeding or equal to withdrawals.
The call by those on the right to gut Social Security is cowardice in its purest form. Social Security has been an effective program that has helped millions of Americans in their retirement. Not only that, it's surpluses have helped pay off the national debt. The inability of those on the left to propose a solution to Social Security's problems is also cowardice in its purest form. Neither side wants to do anything about this problem for fear of alienating their constituents. On the left, that's the elderly and Social Security beneficiaries. On the right, it's investors and others who would love to control the massive amounts of money that would be available were Social Security gutted.
According to the exhaustive life expectancy study linked below, the change between average life expectancy in the United States at the time Social Security began and now is approximately 14 years. When Social Security began, the average American only lived to be about 63 years old. Now, the average life expectancy is 77 years. When Social Security was originally developed, benefits were paid out at 65 years of age. Today, benefits can be claimed at 62 years of age, though the beneficiary does take a cut in benefits of approximately 30%. Generally, though, the age at which a contributor can claim benefits has not changed.
The solution involves simple math, which is probably why no politician has offered it up as a solution. I would advocate an immediate change in the structure of Social Security to begin paying out benefits at age 70 instead of 65. While I could post some kind of table showing what it would take to save Social Security, the concept is so simple as to be unnecessary. At the very least, raising the retirement age extends the life of the Social Security Trust Fund some number of years. The required change could be implemented in stages or immediately. Logic dictates that some kind of staged implementation would be the most fair since those who were already 64 may have planned for their benefits or retired early.
Raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits is the logical way to save Social Security. Why we haven't seen many politicians step up and offer this remedy speaks less to any problem with Social Security and more to a problem with our politicians.