Dian's Column
Dian's Archive


Love those Benefits

By Dian Vujovich

A monthly Social Security check could be coming my way later this year. That’s a scary thought given I can’t figure out how 62 got here so quickly. As for its amount, well let’s just say that I’m now willing to marry—and not necessarily for love. I could kick myself for not following my mother’s advice about how it’s just as easy to marry a rich man as it is a poor one. Once again, mom knows best.

I know a number of people opting to receive their Social Security benefits early. Most base their decisions on the assumption that Social Security won’t be around long and want to grab their piece of that pie before it’s gone. But I’m not so sure S.S. will be going away any time soon.

We all hear about how fewer workers are contributing to that coffer and that it will be bankrupt in a few years because of that. The arguments for its demise continue with how high the number of those collecting is and that those getting a monthly check are living so long.

Nobody, however, is talking about the other side of the coin. Like the fact that our population is swelling and more and more people are working. That’s got to translate into more money being paid into the Social Security trust fund, doesn’t it?

The U.S Census Bureau has estimated our population will total around 308 million souls by 2010. According to AARP, roughly 163 million people work in jobs covered by Social Security currently.

So, we’ve got a growing population with many people paying into Social Security. I see that as good news for check-getters. More good news is in 2008, assets in the trust earned 5.1 percent, according to AARP. (Lipper’s figures show the average equity fund was down over 37 percent last year.)

Even more good news is there are monies in the fund that may have been collected but will never be paid out. That happens when individuals don’t work long enough to qualify for benefits. Additionally, in a married household in which both individuals are collecting Social Security checks, when one dies, money from the other’s check stays in the fund. Although the remaining spouse gets to collect the check amount that’s the higher of the two, it’s fair to figure that when your honey croaks you instantly become poorer and the Social Security trust fund richer.

While I was unable to find out how much those kinds of leftovers add to the coffers each year, I’m guessing it’s a tidy amount.

So maybe I will decide to nab that check this year. Then again, maybe I’ll take my mom’s advice and find a hubby with a fatter one. I can see the ad now: “Wanted: Social Security check. Only top 1 percent of male wage earners need apply.”

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

[ top ]