I recently received my social security statement in the mail. For those of you who have never received this statement and don’t know what it entails, let me inform you. It is a four-page pamphlet that tells you how much you have paid into social security and how much you will be receiving monthly when you retire.
The amount you can receive increases if you wait longer to retire. The earliest you can begin getting payments is at sixty-two. If you want to hold out for the big bucks you can wait until you are seventy. Wow! Thanks, U.S. government. You mean I can work through that crippling hip pain for an extra eight years as my weakening bladder drips urine down my leg while kids forty years my junior work circles around me? Hot damn!
Let us not forget how much American companies love to keep the old guy around. You know, for his boundless strength and energy, his sage advice on marketing to teens, and his desire to bring back the crank on automobiles.
So let’s presume I don’t get fired from my job or die of a stroke while over exerting myself and I make it to seventy. What will my retirement have in store for me? Maybe a good six to eight months with my Alzheimery yammering wife before she passes away and I spend my last few years staring at a cockroach crawl up the wall of my transient hotel as I listen to the sounds of my crack addict neighbor have sex for drugs.
Now I know you may be saying to yourself, “Gees, Dwyer. Do you always have to paint such a bleak picture? Can’t you spend your last years fishing in Northern Cali?”
“But don’t you have savings or a retirement fund?”
I don’t know about you readers but I have spent my life chasing a dream. You know, actor/writer/comic/drinker. Though I love this life, it doesn’t often go hand-in-hand with financial security. Also, we creative types often have an impulse to live in the now. Unfortunately, when the next “now” comes, you’re eating tuna and straining sterno through a sock so you can drink the alcohol.
To give you a better perspective of how I may potentially be very fucked in the future (and you too), I will show you how much I will be getting at my various social security ages.
Retire at age 62: $492 a month
Retire at age 67: $699 a month
Retire at age 70: $948 a month
Expire trying to reach 70: $0
If I made $492 dollars a month in 2006, I’d be pretty fucking pissed off, but guess how much that’ll be in the economy twenty-five years from now? You guessed it!! NOTHING!!!!
So with all this in mind I can only foresee my elder years in one of three ways: 1) Living in that transient hotel eating canned cat food. 2) Bagging groceries and getting fired because I told you to fuck off when you said, “You’re gonna break the eggs.” 3) Being the oldest man in America arrested for armed robbery.
I think three is the most likely because I am not bagging your groceries and I sure as hell ain’t eating cat food.
I know I painted a dark image about our futures, but there is something that appears at the bottom of the statement that I’m sure will bring you joy and comfort. It reads: Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2040, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 74 percent of the scheduled benefits.
Great, so I will have to eat dry cat food. Oh, and you don’t even have to pay attention to the news to know that by the time we reach sixty-two there won’t be any social security. However, as I sit there starving, I’ll take pride in knowing that social security money was well spent bringing democracy to Iraq.
My prediction: Twenty-five years from now, there will be an increase in gun and ski mask sales. Watch out mother fuckers, oldie is getting his due.
There is one more statement on my pamphlet that I like. It reads: Did you know…Social Security is more than just a retirement program? It’s here to help you when you need it most?
We’ll see about that.