Sunday, November 9, 2008

What Social Security Means to You

I just got my latest statement from Social Security in the mail yesterday. Commissioner Michael J. Astrue wrote the cover article entitled What Social Security Means to You. In a nutshell for me, the answer seems to be"not much" unless something changes.

My full retirement age is 67 years old. That is in 2043. However, Commissioner Astrue wrote in his letter that, "Without changes, by 2041 the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted and there will be enough money to pay only about 78 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits."

I'm not 100% sure what that means. "Exhausted" sounds like it will be out of money, but "78 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits" sounds like I just won't get the full amount the statement is telling me that I'm eligible to receive when I'm 67.

Actually, inside the statement it has an asterisk by my estimated retirement benefit amount. Down below, it says, "Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2041, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 78 percent of scheduled benefits." That makes it sound like I could get something. But I'm still missing the full benefit by 2 years!

Either way, I'm not counting on it. I think of any money I will collect from Social Security at retirement as my bonus money. I've never been in a job that has paid a bonus, so that will be really nice -- to be retired and receive a bonus!

Commissioner Astrue also wrote in the statement that, "Social Security is the largest source of income for most elderly Americans today, but Social Security was never intended to be your only source of income when you retire. You also will need other savings, investments, pensions or retirement accounts to make sure you have enough money to live comfortably when you retire." I believe that, and I'm acting on it -- socking away as much as we can for retirement.

It is frustrating when I think of all of the things I want/need to do with my money. There's just not enough to make everything happen perfectly...and that's for a relatively simple life. But there's one thing I know for sure: I want to be able to retire and live comfortably during retirement. So, I'll keep saving for it.

In the meantime, I'm off to the grocery store and Target now with my list of sale items and coupons. I'm continue to pinch my pennies pretty hard in order to stretch them further. I want to meet as many of my financial goals as possible...with lots of effort, hopefully I will.

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