OPINION: Social Security: Will it be there when we retire?

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As issues regarding Social Security arise in political conversations, the question of retirement has reversed from a “when” to an “if.” The enormous population from the Baby Boomer era does not help matters either, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance. The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are struggling to receive benefits for Social Security. Additionally, the population is increasing at a rate that the benefits cannot meet.

The population is growing

Tax rates remain unchanged in the current law even though the number of beneficiaries are growing. The beneficiary-to-worker ratio is estimated to rise from those aged 35 per 100 in 2012 to 46 per 100 in 2030, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance. The beneficiary-to-worker ratio compares the number of people drawing benefits to the number of workers paying into Social Security.

America’s increasing population has only worsened the situation. The population of U.S. citizens ages 15-64 increased by nearly 50 percent between 1970 and 2000, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. Social Security was established in 1935 to support a population that did not have higher life expectancy and advancements in medicine that we have today.

Income for the elderly

Social Security accounts for $2 of every $5 older Americans receive and is the single largest income source for the elderly. Social Security has also reduced poverty among America’s citizens aged 65 and older population, according to Population Growth Organization. Preventing high medical bills and making health care available to all elderly Americans are just a few reasons as to why Medicare is a necessity.

The age at which people can retire is also going up. Those people who were born after 1959 cannot retire until they are 67, according to the Social Security Administration. With new technology and advancements in medicine, it is only expected that this number will continue to go up. Will these few years of work, though, keep the elderly afloat when they don’t have that source of income?

Why should we care?

When we get jobs after college, we want to have the relief of Social Security to help us when we hit retirement age. The last thing we want for our future is to be forgotten in assisted living and barely getting by on fixed income.

Even though the efforts in the past have been botched, America can still change the situation in the next 40 years. Either we could raise the retirement age, or we could increase the Social Security tax by making small changes annually for the next two to four decades. The current possibilities each have a downside. Unfortunately, a financial strain is an inevitable part of the equation. The decision will have to be either to make less money or to retire later. One solution may be for students to open an IRA account. While opening an account in your 20s may seem crazy, it’s better to rely on an IRA account than the shifts in Social Security.

After looking over the options, it’s evident that the situation is pretty bleak. Our retirement age will continue to get pushed back, so it’s important to not only open an IRA account to begin saving but also (and maybe more importantly) to have a secure job.

Since the government will continue to leave us out of the financial picture until a late retirement age, we are forced to rely on our undergraduate and graduate degrees to help us land reliable jobs that can support us for many years to come. The pressure is on for us to find jobs that will provide lifelong financial security when government aid will not.

Chesley Kilgore is a sophomore in English and secondary education.

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