Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Social Security's solvency and eventual payout
The “CloseUp” article “Social Security isn’t the deal it once was” [News, Aug. 6] was very misleading. The argument that a couple would pay out more in their working life span for Social Security taxes than they would receive in benefits (if they started collecting at 65 and lived to their estimated expected life span) was based upon that average couple paying out close to $600,000 in Social Security taxes during their working years.
If you do the math, this mythical couple would have had to have made close to $250,000 a year for 40 years to have paid that much in Social Security taxes. The average household income for dual earners in the U.S. is presently about $67,000. That’s a far cry from a quarter of a million dollars a year. This couple would have paid out about $67,000 in Social Security taxes by the time they retire. The monthly payments they would receive would well surpass the amount of investment they made into the fund.
Social Security was developed to protect the average American in their later years. It is really an annuity for being a productive American and still is a very good deal for over 90 percent of all citizens. It certainly needs to be better funded but it has helped at least two generations of Americans live with some respect and dignity in their final years.
The Urban Institute “think tank” and the AP writer of this article have done a disservice to all of us to print such a fabrication of reality.
-- Bob Squaglia, Seattle
More than a retirement perk
The article is right: Social Security isn't the deal it once was. But there is more to Social Security than retirement benefits. Another is survivor benefits, which I'd like to address, based on my recollections and early family documents.
My father paid into the Social Security Administration through payroll deductions from 1937, when the deductions began, until his death in June 1940. He left my mother, a daughter age 6, and a son (me) age 9. My mother initially received monthly survivor benefits totaling $61.05 -- $26.17 for her and $17.44 each for my sister and I.
We had no significant assets, and somehow she provided for us on that amount. We lived in a modest house, had three meals a day, (although occasionally a meal was just bread and gravy), and had new school clothes each fall. In about 1944 my mother went to work and her SSA benefit was discontinued but benefits for my sister and I continued until we reached our 18th birthdays, a welcome supplement to her modest wage.
When considering Social Security’s income and outgo, especiallynow thatchanges are contemplated in Congress, the value of all Social Security programs — not just retirement benefits — should be addressed. I don't know what our family would have done without our modest survivor benefits.
-- HarryPetersen, Bellevue