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Social Security Calculator

Should the Social Security system be privatized?

Is the Social Security system forcing retirees into a life of poverty?

Below is a calculation showing what the median income earner would have in a private account, had he or she been able to invest it in the broad market (S&P 500), instead of in the Social Security system.   This is for a current retiree, age 67.   We assume he/she has been working since age 18 (1965->), and earned the median income level each year.

With a private account, the median income earner would retire at age 67 with roughly $1.9 million dollars in his/her account, even after accounting for the crash of '87, the dot-com bust, the crash of 2008, etc.   At 3% interest, he could withdraw $4700 per month for the rest of his life, and leave the entire $1,895,000 to his heirs, ending the cycle of poverty.   With Social Security, what will he get?   Perhaps $1350 per month.   And when he dies, the account is lost.   A working spouse would also have an account, so a couple could retire with an incredible income, even more than what they ever earned while working!   Instead, Social Security is keeping the American worker in poverty at retirement.

Comparing apples-to-apples, we need to account for the fact that Social Security confiscates the person's account when they die.   Their actuaries say that the current average life expectancy for a retiree at the age of 67 is approximately 81 for a male and 84 for a female.   So, they think the account needs to last about 14 years.   If the retiree's private account at retirement paid 3% interest, and they drew it all out in 14 years, they would be able to take $13830 per month, about 10 TIMES more than Social Security.   Even having taken the zero-risk approach of investing any retirement funds in 10 year US Treasury Bonds would allow the median income earner to draw out $3600 per month, almost triple the amount Social Security pays.   For those unfortunate enough to die before retirement, the Social Security system confiscates their accounts, with meager returns passed to their survivors.

Here is another way to look at this...   At 3% interest, to withdraw $1350 per month for 14 years, a person needs $185000 in their account.   This median-income worker could have retired at that payout in 1991, at age 45!   Social Security made him work for 22 more years to get the same payout.

Again, this is for the median income earner.   You can enter your own income figures.   Get your latest Social Security statement, plug in your own numbers, and hit the "Recalculate" button to see what your account value would be.

We've all heard the argument, "Yeah, but it's too risky.   What if the market crashes?"   Well, let's say the market does crash, and loses 50% of its value the year you want to retire.   That is not likely, but could happen.   Where would you be?   Even in that worst case, you are still better off than with Social Security.   And, historically, the market has usually recaptured much of the loss in just a few years after a crash.   Also, let's not forget that Social Security is the world's biggest Ponzi scheme.   Contributions made today are going to pay benefits for today's retirees.   There is no trust fund.   It is unsustainable, and future generations will pay more to get less.   All Ponzi schemes eventually crash.

NOTE: Medicare contributions are shown for study, but not included in the private accounts.   The private accounts are investing only the Social Security (Old Age and Disability) contributions.

NOTE:  The Social Security Act of 1935 originally promised, "You and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year.   That is the most you will ever pay".   Of course, that promise was not kept.   Click here to read the original Social Security I.S.C. 9 pamphlet, distributed to all workers in 1936.

Something else to ponder...  The first old-age social insurance program in the world, and the model for the US Social Security system, was put into place by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who called his measures “State Socialism”.  The purpose of his program was to control the population, make them dependents of the state, and bring them further under his control.  He stated:
"Whoever has a pension for his old age is far more content and far easier to handle than one who has no such prospect. Look at the difference between a private servant and a servant in the chancellery or at court; the latter will put up with much more, because he has a pension to look forward to.  I will consider it a great advantage when we have 700,000 small pensioners drawing their annuities from the state, especially if they belong to those classes who otherwise do not have so much to lose by an upheaval and erroneously believe they can actually gain much by it."

- Otto von Bismarck, original architect of old-age insurance programs





Social Security & Medicare Withheld Private Account Returns
Year Median Income SSDI Rate Medicare Rate SSDI Withheld Medicare Withheld S&P 500
Total Return
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in S&P 500
10 Year Treasury
Bond Rate
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in Bonds
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