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Jul 5, 2014

Workers Say They'll Wait Longer To Retire And To Some Extent They Do

From the Census Bureau

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  • Jun 11, 2014

    Do People Retire At Age 62 Because They Want To Retire Or Because They're Sick

         From the Squared Away Blog of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:
    Are people who claim their Social Security retirement benefits when they’re 62 too sick or impaired to work? ...
     [R]esearchers, from the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University, examined Medicare claims from 1991 through 2008 for the four groups during the year following their 65th birthdays. They found no evidence of persistent health problems that would have kept the 62-year-olds from continuing to work for a few more years. ...
    Controlling for race, sex, education and other factors that have a bearing on health, the $287 annual difference in Medicare claims between people who started receiving retirement benefits at 62 and at 65 was not significant. Similarly, the healthcare spending of people who received disability benefits and those who were rejected was virtually the same.
    But there was a large gap between the group who claimed a retirement benefit at 62 and the group on disability: Medicare claims for disability recipients were $4,400 more annually than the claims for early pensioners. 
    It’s important to note that this analysis doesn’t capture any differences in healthcare spending that may’ve occurred prior to age 65.
         Because of the methodology problem indicated in the last paragraph quoted above, I don't think we can call this study definitive.

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  • Jun 10, 2014

    Don't Cut Social Security, Increase It!

         From Greg Sergent writing for the Washington Post:
    The idea has long remained outside the boundaries of acceptable Beltway discourse, but more and more Dems are coming around to it: Instead of getting drawn onto GOP austerity turf — into a debate over how much to cut Social Security — Dems should instead go on offense on the issue and push for an expansion of the program.
    Today, I’m told, Senate Democrats will introduce a proposal to expand Social Security benefits for certain groups — and it is picking up the support of a member of the Democratic leadership, Senator Patty Murray of Washington State. Senator Mark Begich of Alaska will take the lead on the proposal, and he and Murry will speak about it on the Senate floor this afternoon. ...
    The framing reflects a growing sense among Dems that they can win the argument over entitlements by framing it as a battle over which party would boost the retirement security of the elderly, and which would erode it.

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  • Apr 16, 2014

    Colvin Says Women Need To Save

         From National Public Radio:
    The Social Security Administration distributes retirement benefits to nearly 60 million Americans. And of those beneficiaries, nearly 60 percent are women.
    The SSA is led by a woman, too. Carolyn Colvin was once retired herself, collecting benefits from the agency she now serves. A call from President Obama brought her back in 2010, and she recently took over as acting commissioner. As part of Morning Edition's look at the, Colvin spoke with Kelly McEvers about how women plan for financial security.
    Colvin points out two realities she hopes women consider when . First, women make less money than men on average; when they stop working, their monthly Social Security checks are smaller, too.
    Also, women tend to live longer than men. Colvin encourages women to estimate their own life expectancy with the, and find out more. Doing so, she says, often makes women realize they can outlive their savings — and that retirement benefits alone won't be enough.

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  • Mar 25, 2014

    People Undervalue The Importance Of Social Security -- Until They Retire


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  • Mar 12, 2014

    President's Budget Proposing To End "File And Suspend"?

         Fox News is saying that the President's budget proposes to end "file and suspend." I don't recall seeing that. Is this report accurate?
         Even though I was planning to do this myself, I don't know that ending it is necessarily a bad idea. So few people know about file and suspend that it may be nothing more than a hidden treat for the unusually sophisticated. Can there be any significant amount of money involved in ending file and suspend? I thought that only a few were employing this strategy.

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  • Mar 8, 2014

    Why Social Security Matters So Much


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  • Mar 6, 2014

    Senate Committee Schedules Hearing

         The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Subcommittee on Economic Policy has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, March 12 at 2:30 on “The State of U.S. Retirement Security. Can the Middle Class Afford to Retire?” Among other things, the hearing will deal with the question of whether Social Security should be "strengthened."

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  • Feb 9, 2014

    Why Wealthy People Think That Cuts To Social Security Aren't A Big Deal


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  • Jan 11, 2014

    Don't Get Fooled

         From R.J. Eskow:
    There is a highly funded campaign to cut Social Security and Medicare while distracting us from the true sources of our multi-generational retirement crisis. This narrative can be traced back to the work of conservative billionaire Peter "Pete" Peterson and his foundation, who sent minions like Alan Simpson out to stigmatize so-called "greedy geezers" for our country's retirement woes.
    The Peterson crowd has worked very hard to convince Millennials that the older generation has robbed them of retirement security, a strategy they've pursued with false-front organizations like "The Can Kicks Back." A number of lazy journalists have bought into their narrative without consulting experts in the field ...
    The Peterson cohort's goal was to convince Millennials that the best way to get even with their elders was by cutting Social Security -- for themselves. (Most benefit-cut proposals exempt those who are about to retire, for political reasons.) It's astonishing that they expected Millennials to fall for it -- which, according to polls they haven't. But then, it's equally astonishing how many pundits and politicians have fallen for it.

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  • Dec 30, 2013

    Nice Try

         There's a new meme coming from the right. Sure, we ought to increase Social Security benefits, but only for the poor. We'll do it by means testing Social Security. Andrew Biggs started this but others are chiming in. I think it's a good idea to remind everyone that Social Security will not change in any fundamental way until one very determined party completely dominates the White House and the Congress. That's not coming anytime soon. Even if the Republicans did dominate the White House and the Congress I'd be amazed if they attempted this. If they did, they wouldn't control the White House and the Congress much longer.

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  • Dec 24, 2013

    Americans Aren't Prepared Financially For Retirement And The Problem Is Getting Worse

         From the abstract of a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:
    The National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) measures the share of working-age American households “at risk” of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. ... As of 2010, the NRRI showed that, even if households worked to age 65 and annuitized all their financial assets (including the receipts from reverse mortgages on their homes), 53 percent of American households were at risk.
         By the way, the study shows that the problem has been getting worse.

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  • Dec 22, 2013

    Republicans Willing To Accept Higher Social Security Benefits?

         Steven Rosenfeld at Salon finds it remarkable that at the Senate Finance Committee hearing last week on "America's retirement crisis" none of the Republicans felt that Social Security benefits couldn't be increased, at least for the poorest Americans. 
         I have to point out that Republicans are cutting food stamps and cutting large numbers of people off unemployment benefits this Christmas season, hardly a sign that they have grown a heart. Andrew Biggs, who testified at the behest of the Republicans at the hearing, was willing to accept higher Social Security benefits for the poor only at the cost of means testing Social Security benefits, the long standing dream of Republicans to explicitly turn Social Security into a "welfare" program that they can hate more openly.
         I think that running on a plan to increase Social Security benefits would be a winner for Democrats in 2014 and 2016 but I'm sorry to say that don't see that sort of audacity in the Democratic party. I hope I'm wrong.

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  • Dec 13, 2013

    We Don't Need Social Security One Bit -- People Can Just Plan Their Own Retirements

         From the summary of a study on financial advisors:

    46% of financial advisers do not have a retirement plan for themselves, yet 40% are planning to retire within the next 14 years.

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  • Dec 6, 2013

    Third Way Is A Fraud

        Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times has a fine article on Senator Warren's response to a misleading Third Way op ed in the Wall Street Journal. 
         The right wing lies about Social Security are out of hand and it mostly starts with bogus front groups like "Third Way" which poses as a centrist organization but which is nothing of the sort. Its board is thoroughly dominated by Wall Street and corporate executives who want no change in current law that allows most of their high incomes to escape the FICA tax while every penny of Joe Sixpack's income is taxed.

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  • Nov 22, 2013

    It Looks Different From The Top

         CEOs with 1,200 times your retirement savings want to cut Social Security.

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  • Nov 19, 2013

    Wedge Issue?

         The idea of raising Social Security benefits is increasingly becoming a favorite among more liberal Democrats. Senator Warren just came out in favor of the idea. This is not going to happen while Republicans control the House of Representatives. Theoretically, control of the House could change next year but it would take a Democratic landslide. More realistically, raising Social Security benefits could be in the Democratic platform in 2016. It would make a nice wedge issue. Republicans skew older.  More than half of Republican voters are over 50. One major problem for Democrats has been that the public doesn't understand the Affordable Care Act. They will eventually and I'm convinced they'll like it a lot but a 10% rise in Social Security benefits is easy to understand and easy for many who now vote Republican to like.
         By the way, I'm not terribly interested in hearing Republicans argue that raising Social Security benefits is bad because that money should go to younger people. A party doing everything possible to hurt public education ought to be ashamed to make that argument.

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  • Nov 18, 2013

    Washington Post Doesn't Like Idea Of Increasing Social Security Benefits

         The Washington Post editorial board doesn't think that raising Social Security benefits would be a good idea because the money should be spent on younger people. The Post doesn't explain exactly how the money should be spent on younger people. Maybe someone can help me out by telling me how the Post wants to spend more money on younger people.
         .I wonder if the bigger problem for the Post is that, as the editorial board puts it, raising taxes to pay more Social Security benefits would be "a massive transfer of income from upper-income Americans to the retired." I doubt that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the new owner of the Post, likes the idea of transferring income from the wealthy to the retired.

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  • Nov 7, 2013

    Is Social Security Regressive

    For Social Security
         Eduardo Porter writes in the Economix column at the New York Times that this chart shows that Social Security is regressive, that instead of helping poor people it hurts them because wealthier people live longer. The problem with Porter's argument is that he's basing it on race-ethnicity. The average age of whites is 41, African-Americans 30 and Hispanics is 27. What this chart does show is that the Republican party, which has become the de facto "white people's party", isn't likely to support changes that would cut Social Security. Only in theory and then they have to refer to "entitlements" rather than Social Security. People tend to think that "entitlements" are government benefits that go to someone else. They know that Social Security goes to everybody.

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  • Nov 4, 2013

    "You Can't Change The Rules"

         Older Americans really, really don't like the idea of changing Social Security. However, removing the cap on wages covered by the F.I.C.A. tax does appeal to them.
    "I contributed to it. It's my money," said Joan McDonald, 65, of Annapolis, Md., who retired as an accountant this year and began collecting Social Security. "The plan was, 'Contribute this and you get this.' You can't change the rules."

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