First Person: Younger People Should Decide Social Security’s Fate

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A survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polled people 50 and older about changes to Social Security. I'm befuddled, but not by the baby boomers' "passionate opposition" to changes in Social Security. I don't understand why their opinions matter when it's the younger generations that have to deal with the likely reduction in benefits due to the mismanaged program. A recent article by the AP reported that older people opposed reductions in cost-of-living increases for Social Security. Obviously anyone in their 50s and 60s isn't going to volunteer to take less money out or work longer to receive full benefits. I think lawmakers need to listen to what generations X, Y and Z have to say about the matter. After all, in 2033, it's the younger people who will be receiving a 25 percent reduction in benefits.

Raising the cap on income

If lawmakers raised the cap on income that is subject to Social Security taxes, it will only be a temporary fix. It would help the older generation, but do nothing to solve the long-term problem for the rest of us. Moreover, it will be yet another burden on the middle class, particularly the upper middle-class. According to a recent Forbes article, the wage base or maximum amount of a person's pay subject to the tax, is going to climb from $113,700 to $117,000 or 2.9 percent next year. High-wage earners, meanwhile, aren't receiving any breaks on their new, higher health care insurance rates. The payroll tax cap is adjusted to keep up with inflation, which should be sufficient in my opinion. But the poll showed 61 percent of older people favored raising the cap.

Gradually raising the age

According to the survey, 58 percent of the older Americans opposed raising the age when retirees may claim full benefits. It's already clear that most people can't live on the reduced benefits they receive by retiring early at age 62. I've heard people argue that the age should be raised to reflect people's greater longevity. However, I think future generations are battling an increasing number of health issues that will shorten lifespan. I don't want to have to wait until I'm 80 to receive my full Social Security benefits.

Fixing Social Security

My solution for fixing Social Security is to immediately begin reducing benefits by a small percentage amount while simultaneously offering food stamps to seniors over the age of 65 if they are unable to find work. Providing food stamps is a win-win for the economy because of the food surpluses. Although some lawmakers pretend they are doing the middle-class a favor by cutting food stamps for the poor, it's actually costing us nothing to help the hungry out of our abundance. In another 20 years, senior citizens should be exempt from paying property taxes as soon as they are retired. However, I don't think the current generation of "snowbirds" with summer and winter homes need any break on their property tax bill.

Instead of trying to get seniors to work longer, I think it's better for the economy to get them off the payrolls. Unemployment numbers will go down so members of generation X and Y can pay into the system intended to keep senior citizens from starving and being homeless as opposed to paying for their winter homes in Florida.

More from this contributor:

My Unrealistic Retirement Date Had me in a Panic

Preparing for Double Digit Rates

Saving for Retirement in my 20s Backfired


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