Blue Witch wrote at length last Friday about changes in the retirement rules in the UK ("More pensions" Friday, September 24). Once again, I have great empathy with her subject matter, especially since Dear Husband and I are much closer to that point in our lives.
I had so much to say to her about it, that I felt it would be more appropriate to write it here, and link to her comments.
For the past ten years or so, we have been receiving notices from the Social Security Administration telling how much we had paid into the system, and how much we would be likely to receive a month should we retire at 62, or perhaps 65. In the past couple of years they are now telling us what we would receive should we choose to wait to retire at 70!
The government never intended Social Security to be a complete retirement package. They have always talked up 401k retirement plans, and savings, and any prudent person has investments to augment those. Unfortunately, the stock market wiped out a lot of those investment gains, and those who were in for the long haul, are running out of time when it comes to rebuilding those funds.
At the same time, the Federal Government is realizing that the Baby Boomers are nearing retirement age, and they are beginning to worry that there won't be enough money to pay their claims. Their response: encourage them to work longer!
So....these notices show you how much MORE you would earn if you worked until you were 70. They don't tell you that you HAVE to work that long, but the graphics showing what you would earn at 62, 65 and 70 are pretty convincing.
There are several catches to this line of thinking. First, it's one thing to assume that I might continue to do paper work until I am 70. As long as I get my sleep, and I can see my monitor (Thank you for LARGE FONTS!!!), I could keep working. However, Dear Husband is an officer in a construction company. He is NOT going to be able to deal with the extremes of heat that Northern Illinois throws at us much longer. He might choose to take a job that pays a lot less than his present job, in order to stay inside more. So, Catch #1 is the physical ability to continue at your job.
The statistics the SSA sends us assume that we will continue to earn as much, or more, from now until we retire. It doesn't, perhaps can't, take into consideration changes in employment (Catch #2). And, in our experience, those our age who change jobs, tend not to move up in salary. We have friends our age who would be happy for a run of the mill job, let alone one with a golden parachute.
And....Catch #3....I seriously doubt that by the time I retire there will be one red cent left in the treasury to pay my Social Security. My Federal government sees fit to GIVE half a billion a week to five countries who are at the top of the list as recipients of our foreign aid: Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan and Columbia. I have NO idea how much more we pay to the rest of the world. It's a shame we are being taxed to support a world that doesn't like us, rather than providing health care for our own poor.
So, we're pretty uncomfortable about the idea of retiring. It will come one day, but I suspect it won't be soon, and it might be a lot later than we'd like.
Blue Witch....good luck revising your plans. I'd really like to know SOMEONE who retired by fifty!