Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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The future of Social Security
Paul Kusuda
One is that beneficiaries are living much longer than anticipated, for a variety of reasons, when the program was established about 80 years ago.
The other is that the proportion of employed workers in the total U.S. Population declined as the proportion of beneficiaries grew. The result is that
program expenditures exceeded program revenues for many years. Initially, savings exceeded costs.  Those savings were used in recent years
to offset decreases in program incomes.  The worries result from the fact that the amount saved thus far faces an end-point in the near future.
A November 14, 2017, publication by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities titled Policy Basics:  Top Ten Facts about Social Security contains
much information that I found worth consideration.

As reminders about the program, I decided to write about a few of the facts.
1.        “Social Security is more than just a retirement program.”  It also includes a small life insurance benefit and disability insurance protection.
One-fifth of the beneficiaries are workers with disabilities and dependents or young survivors.
2.        Social Security benefits are not means-tested, that is, eligibility is not based on assets or income; they are available to all who meet
requirements such as work experience, age, and disability level.
3.         “Social Security benefits are modest…the average…in June 2016 was about $1,350 a month…(The average disabled worker and aged
widow received slightly less.)” Since most beneficiaries have Medicare Part B, premiums deducted from SS Checks, those premiums will
increase as health care costs rise, resulting in a decrease in monthly checks.
4.        “Children have an important stake in Social Security…More than six million children under 18 lived in families that received income from SS
in 2014.”
5.        “Most elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income…Reliance on SS increases with age, as older people —
especially older women — outlive their spouses and savings.”
6.        “Social Security is particularly important for groups with low earnings and less opportunity to save and earn pensions, including African
Americans and Latinos.” It comprises “…90 percent or more income for 41 percent of Asian Americans, 45 percent of African Americans, and 52
percent of Latinos compared with 32 percent of whites … African American and Hispanic workers benefit substantially less from SS because they
have higher disability rates and lower lifetime earnings than whites, on average.  Hispanic workers also have longer average life expectances
than whites, which means they have more years to collect retirement benefits.”
7.        “Social Security is especially important for women because they tend to earn less than men, take more time out of the paid workforce, live
longer, accumulate less savings, and receive smaller pensions.  Women constitute 56 percent of … beneficiaries 62 and older and 66 percent
of…aged 85 and older.”  Also, they comprise 97 percent of SS survivor beneficiaries.”
8.         “Relatively modest changes would place Social Security on sound financial footing … The trustees estimate that if policymakers took no
further action, Social Security’s combined Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and DI trust funds will be exhausted in 2034. After 2034,
By Paul Kusuda (a repost)

Editor’s Note – Paul H. Kusuda died on November 10, 2017. This is a reprint of a column that he originally wrote for Asian
Wisconzine. Heidi Pascual felt that Paul's ideas on Social Security is relevant to this day.

Social Security concerns many, whether young or old. Those who are among the older group wonder whether increases in
retirement benefits will be forthcoming or whether Medicare/Medicaid costs will result in actual reductions in monthly amounts
received. Those who are among the younger group, that is, those not yet eligible to receive benefits or who plan later
retirement, wonder whether the over-all program will cease or be drastically reduced by the time they meet age requirements
for Medicare.  Their concerns grow from year to year as they see no governmental action to meet anticipated financial
problems resulting from two major impediments to actuarial predictions made to assure adequate program funding.  
even if policymakers took no further action, Social Security could still pay
three-fourths of scheduled benefits, relying on Social Security taxes as they
are collected … A mix of tax increases and benefit modifications, carefully
crafted to shield beneficiaries with limited means … could put the program
on a sound footing indefinitely … By enacting these changes, policymakers
could reassure future generations that they, too, will be able to count on this
successful program.”

It appears that our new President and Congress will have to formulate
changes in Social Security program make-up, hopefully in 2017, to assure
that our coming generations of workers will see continuation of this program
with its beginning in 1937. A small and constantly dwindling part of today’s
elderly population contributed to SS since its beginning day.