Checking In With Your Own Labor History

Given that Monday is Labor Day, I thought I'd take a look at my last Social Security/Medicare statment to see how much I've paid in taxes for both over my working life. The statement says I began paying into to Social Secuirty in 1965 (a part time job during high school) and continued up through the present. Given what I've paid in, and that I won't retire until 65 at the earliest, there's no way I'll get all that money back -- I won't live that long.I wonder how many people, like me, won't get their money back, either because they die, or they end up with reduced benfits due to the meme the Government is pushing that in 2014, SS will begin paying out more than it takes in, and by 2041 will not have enough to cover everyone? Why doesn't the excess paid in go back to our heirs if we die early?

I've also paid a bundle into Medicare, which I'm years away from collecting on. If I die, Medicare too keeps the money it collected from me. Do they use it to pay medical care for someone else?


Medicare and Social Security may be government run programs, but they are being paid for with money workers pay in. And while some workers will use their benefits, the Government gets to keep the money if people die too soon or die shortly after receiving benefits.

Which leads me to conclude, those saying it's a Government entitlement program don't have it quite right.

It's more of a partnership between the Government and its citizens, and in a lot of cases, the Government takes it all.

Maybe that's why seniors want a lockbox on their benefits. Looking at the numbers I've paid in, it's anything but a handout. It's more of a hand-over.

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    Be sure to check Social (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 05:35:24 AM EST
    Security work history. My record was missing one year and I could not prove up earnings. Too lonn ago. I didn't make much money that year so difference in benefit was minimal.  

    My first paymnent was in 1952 (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 06:47:13 AM EST
    when I was 14.

    The story is that it is insurance so what you don't get back is used to pay the children and spouses of those who die early.

    Jeez, Jim has it right (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by andgarden on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:07:12 AM EST
    Social Security is an insurance program.

    Yes, another successfully (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:47:45 AM EST
    administered government insurance program.  Fancy that

    successful??? (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 12:11:04 PM EST
    Both are going bankrupt.

    Everybody wants what they want.

    Nobody wants to pay what it costs.


    When is Soc Sec going bankrupt? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 12:25:23 PM EST
    I've been told this since I was potty training.  But because our economic machinations and expansions make all the figures anyone ever comes up with "wrong" later on, this is sort of like hearing about the second coming, and the end is near, and this is the beginning of Armegeddon.  You'll know when the end is near, that's when we scrap Soc Sec.  When this "free market" decides to completely upchuck on it's most vulnerable citizens and giggle about it....the Empire has forged its first serious connection to its own collapse.

    Having a bad day? (none / 0) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 12:49:27 PM EST
    We are running out of payees.

    Lift the taxation cap (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 01:07:50 PM EST
    All of my wealth that was supposed to be taxed for Social Security ended up ripped off by Corporate Elites.....lift the taxation cap.  It is the only humane and respectable thing to do now.  It is the only way the boomers can hope to get back any of the security to retire that was stolen from them by the white collar elites in this country.

    How so??? (none / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:09:31 PM EST
    FICA is taxed on X amount of your income per year. I can't see how the fat cats had anything to do with it.

    And lifting the cap still won't save the system. We are running out of payees.


    Lifting the cap will save the system entirely (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:13:09 PM EST
    Don't bring smack to me without proof.  You have a leading economist saying this?  Any evidence what so ever?  Cuz I have such evidence my man, I'm not just pulling this out of dark places.

    And I don't provide proof that (2.00 / 0) (#40)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:48:22 PM EST
    the sun comes up every day either.

    Oh yeah (none / 0) (#35)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:18:26 PM EST
    And everyone's job loss/layoffs....Wall Street.  And everyone's lack of raises and wage increases....Wall Street.  Everybody's "furlough" days.....Wall Street.  The deflation of everyone's wages.....Wall Street.  The new jobs that should have been here growing our economy and our tax base even larger......Wall Street.  My teenager's lack of a job this past summer.....Wall Street.  All of my extra wealth that I would have poured into this economy and paid how many other wages that would have paid taxes.....Wall Street.

    And what does that have to do (none / 0) (#42)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:58:02 PM EST
    with FICA???

    Oh I will give you that the better the economy the more people you gave paying but the fact is that we are running low on people.

    Social security has always been a ponzi scheme that if put together in  the private sector would result in jail time.

    And if you want to complain about Wall Sreet you have to complain about the lack of regulation, especially in the housing market.

    Guess the name and party affiliation who said this:

    ''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

    NYTimes link


    Soc Sec is a low-risk retirement plan (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Democratic Cat on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 07:50:02 AM EST
    It's really a defined benefit retirement plan for those who work or non-working spouses of those who work.  And it also funds a disability program and payments to minor children whose working parent(s) die.

    You and your employer pay in, or, if you are self-employed, you pay in double the amount.  The amount you get back is defined in advance, i.e., it is not dependent on the vagaries of the stock market.  Some people pay in less than they get back and some people pay in more.  The government doesn't keep the money although it does use some of it to pay for the small cost of administering the program.

    Social Security is an excellent very low risk retirement arrangement. It gives people a base level of income when they can no longer work.  In a world in which private company pensions, which were usually defined benefit, are dying off, social security is critical. Defined contribution plans like IRAs and 401Ks place too much risk on individuals who are often ill-equipped to make investment decisions or who get caught in the machinations of Wall Street--think about all the money people have lost in 401Ks due to the downturn in the stock market over the last 12 or 18 months. Whether you are able to retire comfortably -- or at all -- should not depend on whether the stock market was trending up or down as you reached retirement age.  Social Security does not completely solve this problem (the taxes would have to be much higher to do so), but it does guarantee people a base level of income in retirement.

    Mine came last year (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:46:48 AM EST
    and I noted that I no longer qualify for any kind of disability because I have not worked since Josh was born nine years ago.  Up until 2000 though I have always worked some sort of job in a year's time since I was 14.  I paid in 20 years and now do not quailify for disability if I needed it.  Such is our current life circumstances under our treasured "conservative" ideals.  I never intended to get all of my money back, but I was surprised to already have lost a benefit.

    I doubt I'll collect mine (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by cawaltz on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 01:05:29 PM EST
    and if hubby retires from the railroad we won't receive SS anyway. The railroad doesn't pay it. Instead they pay a tier one and tier two tax on their income. If/when he retires I get a half amount of his benefit for mine as his spouse.

    They don't collect unemployment either the rail retirement board pays them a daily stipend(the stipulation being you will go back to work if called back). It was configured because rail employees often work across state lines and it was problematic when deciding who'd pay out benefits.

    Are You Sure About That? (none / 0) (#3)
    by bob h on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 06:57:39 AM EST
    I thought the idea was that the current generation of payers is guaranteeing an excellent rate of return for the older contributors, who get back far more than they paid in.  Certainly that is the case for people like me who have started collecting.

    Well that was the (2.00 / 0) (#6)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:08:05 AM EST
    story that the Demos used when Bush was trying to reform SS.

    Yep you will never get that much back (none / 0) (#7)
    by Saul on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:47:22 AM EST
    When SS started in the 30's the amount collected was peanuts.  My  father in law got 90 percent of his money back since he was born in the 20's.

    I have always said it was unfair.  Seems that all that money you paid into should be given to you or the balance to your heirs.  Unfortunately the government does not look at SS as a savings account.
    If you retire and are single then die the next year then tough.

    I asked SS office today what is the most anyone can receive from SS.  Even if that person made more salary than the cap per each year he was employed.
    They told me that today the most anyone could get is around $2,000/mo

    If the government had never touched SS money since its inception to be used for other things, like to finance a war SS would have been in perfect shape.  That how simple the solution to keep the SS system solvent is.

    "Unfair?" (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by andgarden on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:18:15 AM EST
    What part of insurance don't you understand?

    Considering what destabilized (5.00 / 5) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:52:35 AM EST
    impoverished retirees will/would cost me in my adult life....it is worth every penny I've ever paid in and then some.  One thing that so many Americans lose sight of in our false belief that we life in a true free market is that whether you like it or not - on certain levels we are all in this together and must share place and space together.  Go ahead and allow a segment of our population to be "beaten and broken" and find out what happens to the quality of life for all of us.

    MT, what you said is (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Spamlet on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:03:47 AM EST
    the very definition of enlightened self-interest.

    I'm self centered :) (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:17:17 AM EST
    And use live and life as if they (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:18:21 AM EST
    are the same word :)

    Well, I (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Spamlet on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 11:25:43 AM EST
    like in a free market whether you life it or not.

    Amen.... (none / 0) (#50)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:04:13 AM EST
    but lets not play games and call this a retirement program...lets call it a moral responsibility to the elderly and disabled program...and start issuing it on a needs-based basis.  I think most everbody would be cool with that.

    Cuz as a retirement program, or "insurance", it sucks.  The outfit running it is no better than AIG.


    Many insurances are unfair (none / 0) (#20)
    by Saul on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 11:58:28 AM EST
    Just because you called them an insurance means they are fair.   Most insurances I deal with I have the option to participate or not.  Not the case here.  But ask your question to Jeralyn.  You can only conclude from her post and how she feels about it that she is definitely saying its unfair.

    The point is that it's insurance for EVERYONE (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by andgarden on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 12:24:18 PM EST
    You can no more choose not to participate in Social Security than you can choose not to pay taxes to fund the military or build roads. And that's as it should be.

    We all understand that (2.00 / 0) (#26)
    by Saul on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 12:42:33 PM EST
    But the abuse of the government of your funds my funds and all of Americans funds into these programs is what is the problem.  Look at the abuse of the funds in the Iraq war

    If congress does not care how these funds are abused then there is little we can do about it.  If they did they would have passed a law that from day one that SS money could never be used for anything else but SS

    You want my money ok but with caveats.  I want to make sure you spend it wisely and that you don't dip into our SS cookie jar  to finance things that have nothing to do with SS.

    And that's as it should not be


    I have to carry auto insurance. (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Fabian on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 12:28:13 PM EST
    Considering this household's driving records, we'll never get even a fraction of that money back!  Unfair!  We are subsidizing all the unsafe, drunk, sleep impaired, too old, too young, yadda, yadda, yadda drivers on the road!  

    I want my money back!


    Insurance pays out.... (none / 0) (#49)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:52:46 AM EST
    when the threshold is met..death in the case of life insurance.  Shouldn't retirement insurance be paid out in full at retirement?  That would be insurance.  Instead of this scam where they send you peanuts every month ya can't even afford to live on.

    Your contribution to SS was capped (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by MO Blue on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:27:55 AM EST
    at a certain level regardless of how much more you made over the cap. So therefore your benefits are also capped. The government does not look at it as a savings account because it has not and never was intended to be a savings account. It is a disability and retirement insurance program.

    Don't know if you care, Jeralyn, (none / 0) (#9)
    by Radiowalla on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:59:01 AM EST
    but you have Social Security and Medicare misspelled in your tags.

    Happy Labor Day to all.  

    thanks, fixed now (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:41:56 AM EST
    Bush's proposals were (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 12:17:36 PM EST
    beaten back by the Demos. And yes, the fact it is an insurance program was often used as an excuse for not supporting reform.

    Yeah, letting you invest (none / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:17:46 PM EST
    5% of your tax into a government approved fund certainly seems like privatization to me.

    (sarcasm alert)


    Weren't all the funds that completely (none / 0) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:20:03 PM EST
    went t*ts up government approved? :)

    Nope (none / 0) (#38)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:41:36 PM EST
    Whatever "approval" means.

    But try and focus on 5%. That was to be the maximum amount, plus you had to come out at an age that was years before actual retirement.

    Let's say in 2006 you put 5%, or $250 in a fund. Let's say it went up 35% in 2007 so you started out 2008 with about $330. Now let's say the fund dropped about 40% which is about what the market has dropped/recovered.... You would now have $198 for a loss of $32... And even then only if you sold.

    The example is a little simplistic but I think you can get the point.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 09:43:11 PM EST
    It is privatizing 5%...



    Are you saying that (none / 0) (#43)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:01:04 PM EST
    people have stopped investing??

    Who knew?


    You have no proof (none / 0) (#45)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:17:23 PM EST
    for that claim. Again. People have not stopped investing.

    And I never said anything about taking a flyer.


    No. People would not be opting out (none / 0) (#47)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 08:03:54 AM EST
    of investing their 5%. Some would have switched from growth funds to money markets and conservative funds. Others would see it as a chance to get in at or near the bottom of a bear market and others would be just letting it ride.

    A few would probably just be so uninformed that didn't know about money market funds and get out.

    But your claim that people would be leaving in large numbers makes no sense and isn't matched by what we see in the markets.

    Remember, there is a difference between investing vs gambling/market timing, etc. Talk to a financial adviser. He/she will help you understand.