Pharos-Tribune

Columns

October 31, 2013

WILLIAMS: Social Security is worth saving

Oh, geez, here we go again. The Republicans are saying they won’t cooperate on a budget unless “entitlements” are included — that means Social Security and Medicare.

I have paid into Social Security faithfully since I first went to work in 1965. Well, I say faithfully, but it isn’t as if I did it of my own free will. It was automatically deducted from my income. There were plenty of times when I was so strapped for money, that if it had been voluntary, I probably would have opted out, convincing myself that it was only temporary ... just until the financial crunch was over, you know. Turned out, the crunch lasted most of my life.

I retired in 2011 and began to collect my benefits, but who knows what the future holds. I could die tomorrow and the rest of my contributions over the last 40-plus years would simply flow back into the system. My father died at 63, before he got his first check. On the other hand, my mother is 94 and has received more than she ever paid in.

It’s the luck of the draw. None of us knows what will happen in our lives. We could begin our earning life in poverty, then invent something that makes us rich — or we could start rich and lose everything. We could die young or live for a century.

When the program first began, it was meant to be a supplemental retirement. It was hoped that people would have pensions or savings for the bulk of their retirement but Social Security would insure that all Americans had at least a minimum amount of income to stave of financial devastation in their old age. In recent times, more and more elderly American have come to depend on their checks as a substantial portion of their income.

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