The Collapse of Secure Retirement
While many in Washington and on Wall Street are talking about cutting Social Security, the real problem is that America’s patchwork retirement system is already eroding. Once, the majority of America’s seniors could look forward to at least a modestly middle-class retirement. That dream is fading.
America’s retirement system is said to be a three-legged stool made up of private savings, pension plans, and Social Security. But each leg of the stool is wobbly, while a fourth unacknowledged leg — asset accumulation from home equity — has also taken a huge hit. Absent drastic changes in retirement policy, more elderly Americans will be poor, and many more will be working, often in low-wage jobs, because they can’t afford to retire.
Even without further cuts, the normal Social Security retirement age is set to increase to 67 in 2022. Compared to where it was before the last major changes enacted in 1983, Social Security has already been cut close to 20 percent, in terms of how much wage income it typically replaces.