Mark D. Goldstein, CFP®
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Considering that Social Security has piled up over $17 trillion in unfunded liabilities (see www.USDebtClock.org), it's not surprising that most people I speak with believe that taxes will be higher and their benefits will be lower in the future.
And an increasingly larger number of folks actually doubt they'll receive any benefits at all!
I tell them to RELAX and be logical.
Think about it, friends. There are currently more than 100 million Americans over the age of 50... and that's close to HALF the total number of people in the entire country that are eligible to vote.
In just 12 years (2030), there will be a whopping 130 million people over age 50.
So, do you really think that such a massive amount of voters will allow a bunch of slimy politicians to screw them out of receiving, in any major way, the Social Security benefits they've earned?
Ain't gonna happen, because those voters will severely and politically punish anyone in government that messes with their benefits!
Instead, the government will continue to devise sneaky little ways to whittle away at our benefits, like increasing the age of "full retirement" benefit eligibility. They'll gradually reduce or eliminate cost-of-living increases (please Google "the boiled frog syndrome").
And were you aware that just a couple years ago, the Bipartisan Budget Act covertly eliminated two HUGE strategies that maximized lifetime benefits for married couples ("File and Suspend" and "Restricted Applications for Spousal Benefits")?
On average, that's around $50,000 worth of "free money" no longer available for married couples.
Still, with over $17 trillion in unfunded Social Security obligations, will raising taxes and cutting benefits be enough to fix everything?
Of course not. But maybe we can grow our way out of the problem, eh?
Hmm. If raising taxes and lowering benefits won't be enough to fix the problem, and we can't grow our way out of our current situation, where's the government going to get the money to provide Social Security benefits for an aging population that's living w-a-a-y longer than any previous generation?
And what about Medicare, Medicaid, Defense, Homeland Security, infrastructure, interest on debt, etc., etc.?
Won't the government, once again, just PRINT money?
And if they print money to create the revenue needed to provide all the promised benefits and services, won't that have a devastating effect on savings and investments...particularly for those that are near or in retirement?
Questions: Suppose you didn't have to worry about future taxes, loss of benefits, inflation or stock market volatility? And rather than worry, suppose you could take advantage of those challenges? Would that be a better strategy than the one you're currently using?
And when would you like to get started, now or after the next big downturn?