Medical Tuesday Blog
Social Security’s Missed Opportunity Of 2000
When I turned 65, I debated whether to apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits. Since, I planned to practice until age 72; I knew that I would lose a major portion of my benefits since I was still working. But I found out that not applying for benefits would cost me far more than the income lost by keeping on with the practice of Medicine. Essentially all of my colleagues who entered practice about the same time as I, had similarly decided to keep on working. Why begin to take retirement benefits at age 65 when 75 is the new life expectancy rather than age 65 which was the life expectancy when Social Security was implemented and lose one dollar for every two dollars earned?
And then President Clinton announced that full benefits would be available to those turning 65 regardless of income. We had all assumed a 2 for 1 reduction in benefits from age 65 to age 72 by staying in the program. Hence, we all began receiving benefits at age 65 even though life expectance was now 75. The average American would now receive an additional 10 years of full benefits that had not been factored in when FD Roosevelt had implemented the program in 1935. But wouldn’t ten years of extra yearly income for every American bankrupt the country? Why couldn’t the Clintons have utilized this information to guarantee the future of Social Security?
Just by delaying the partial benefits of age 62 to age 65 and delaying full benefits from age 65, and now from age 68, to age 72, when all professionals, successful business men, corporate executives and entrepreneurs were expecting they would receive full benefits, the Social Security Armageddon of the 21st century could have been avoided.
In the relative quiet political climate of the mid 1990’s, this could have been feasible. However, in our present political climate it cannot even be mentioned. Social Security has again become the third rail of any politician who even mentions this correction in predictions from the 1930s.
This is another example of a president trying to be kind and to purchase votes, causes far more misery to American’s after he’s dead and gone, rather than become a hero in the annals of American History.
There are only brief interludes in history during which an error of this magnitude can be corrected with the least amount of pain. And Clinton missed it. Had he done nothing, our country would be better off.
Government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.
– Ronald Reagan