BY KEITH TUCKER
Special to The Enterprise
When there is something everyone is familiar with and think they understand it enough, it’s ripe for not doing your job to really check it out. At least that’s true for me. Social Security is that thing. Don’t get me wrong. For now, at least, it’s a great program that gives support to 57 million Americans every month. We are all aware the long-term diagnosis of the program is that a shortfall is somewhere down the line. At the present time, it’s estimated 10 million illegal allies are paying into the system that have no way to receive benefits later on. The Social Security Administration knows every one of those Social Security numbers they are using but if you think for a minute they want to stop them from paying in, well enough said. Lately I’ve seen several death notices of people who worked their whole lives and will never draw a dime out of the system. If their spouse draws less, they will get a bump to the greater amount. There are some categories of people who don’t qualify to draw. Like someone who never paid any in and did not have a spouse. Also surprising is that your ex-spouse can draw off you after you die as long as you were married 10 years, no matter how long you have been divorced. It would behoove everyone to take little time to read up on all the different ideocracies that the program has in its rules. Like the 8 countries you can’t retire to and get a check. Six have possible waivers and two are absolutely no money will go to any address in Cuba or North Korea. But you can retire in Russia or China and get your check. We also have reciprocal agreements with some countries that you can pay into their system and then our system and still draw with both countries paying part of the bill even if you didn’t work to get your 40 credits of work experience here. Yes, your ability to draw is based on an amount of work time and money which translates into credits. It basically takes 10 years of working at least 17 weeks a year at minimum wage. That will get you the minimum payout. The maximum amount anyone can draw now is $3,345 a month no matter how much you have paid in. Just in case you have never been self-employed. That means having to pay both ends of the yearly tax. Otherwise, half of it comes out of your pay and your employer pays the other half. A decision that is a crap shoot is deciding when to start your benefits. Start at 62 and you will get 71 percent of your maximum benefit. If you live long enough, you would get more by waiting. As for me, I can now draw and make all I can without any reduction in benefits. But ironically, I’m still paying into the system while getting a monthly benefit. Happy retirement to you whenever that may be but don’t think it will be enough by itself.
Editor’s note: Keith Tucker is a Greenfield resident and owner of The Marble Shop.