Retirement Planning Overview

Most agree Social Security is a looming problem. According to President Bush, by the year 2042, the Social Security Administration will no longer have the available funds to fulfill its benefit obligation.

As part of his proposal for Social Security reform, the president is suggesting a change to the formulation used to determine initial Social Security Benefits. The current system bases the benefit rate as a reflection of average wage growth. Under the proposed change, the benefit rate will be a reflection of the inflation rate, which traditionally grows at a slower rate than wage increase.

While the proposed changes would significantly improve the overall health and longevity of Social Security, it could mean a significant reduction in benefits paid to future retirees. To offset this loss, President Bush has also included a provision in his Social Security reform plan to allow individuals to invest a portion of the money normally sent directly to Social Security into a personal retirement account.

To limit the anticipated loss from personal investment placed in high-risk investment vehicles, President Bush’s proposal limits personal retirement account investment to minimal and modest growth opportunities. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this could mean a 37% benefit reduction to retirees even with a personal retirement account.

In a stated example by the CBO, a median income worker born in 1990 would receive annual Social Security benefits of $14,500—in today’s dollars—as compared to $23,300 under the current plan. The $14,500 includes Social Security benefits and personal retirement account funds.

Currently, there are approximately 30 million people receiving Social Security benefits. Social Security is the only source of income for 20% of those recipients, with an average monthly individual benefit of $930.00. Despite one’s political views, an attempt at Social Security reform suggests a genuine urgency that needs to be addressed.

The Social Security Administration also states that only 33% of workers today have some form of retirement plan. While this statistic paints a clearer picture of the state of the workforce, where frequent employer and career changes are common, it is nonetheless alarming.

Retirement planning should be part of everyone’s long term financial goals. By seeking the help of an experienced financial planner, long-term objectives can be prepared that are realistically obtainable. A financial planner will help you outline your current and anticipated financial needs and wants and to create a guideline marked with milestones to help you measure your progress along the way. When considering retirement planning, time can be an ally if acting early or an enemy if you procrastinate.

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