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Taking what you don't need...
Old 08-08-2013, 10:48 PM   #1
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Taking what you don't need...

We have many posters on this board who say that they have achieved FIRE, and do not actually need SS. Given the next generation will have to pay more to benefit less, some may say taking Social Security when you don't even need it presents a moral dilemma. We all have the choice not to file for benefits, but I do not hear about very many taking turning it down. (other than by dying younger than expected).

Anyone here considering not filing for benefits? I know many will reply they ""earned" the benefits, but that is not my point.
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:57 PM   #2
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Why a moral problem?

If my friend and I both made the income, hence the same SS contribution, but he never saved any money in his 401k while I did, why should I subsidize him now?

The reason I had been saving is that I can have extra beyond SS for more comfort in my old age. It is called delayed gratification, and it is good to encourage people to save and to invest. It is not good to punish savers.

If I have extra, I would rather give to charities (which I do) than to spendthrifts. Or I can leave to my children, who are paying into SS to subsidize those spendthrifts too.

If SS benefits have to be cut to avoid heavy lifting by younger generations, then cut mine and my friend's equally. Watching him suffer will teach youngsters to save. That's a good moral lesson.
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:14 PM   #3
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For clarity, I am speaking of a self initiated, altruistic action, not a government rule change. Anyone who donates their entire SS benefit, to charity along with any tax savings generated by the donation is sort of accomplishing the same thing.
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:14 PM   #4
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I am still earning a salary at my job until I am ready to FIRE, which I am almost ready to do. Is it okay for me to keep accepting my salary or should I voluntarily reduce it so my co-worker who hasn't saved can earn more and maybe retire soon after me.

SS is already a heavily subsidized system that pays more proportionately to lower income earners than to higher income earners. It is not a social welfare system that pays everyone a living wage regardless of any contributions that they paid into the system. If you want to replace it with some other system that is even more tilted, perhaps even to pay zero to those who saved enough to be self sufficient, then let's discuss your proposals. Suggesting that I am making an immoral choice to accept the payout half of a social contract after I have reliably paid in in full for the contribution half is not a good opening gambit to convince me your position has any merit. There are shades of gray between anything goes and redistribute everything. You have no particular claim to the moral high ground just because the particular slant you have taken is your idea.
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:15 PM   #5
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Over the course of my career I worked hard and delayed gratification so that I only spent about 20% of my total income before taxes. But guess what, I paid 35% of my income in various federal, state and local income and payroll taxes. Property taxes, sales taxes and other taxes went above and beyond that. I spent into the SS system as required, and all of this money was given to others on the premise that one day I would get "my turn". It's possible that I will die before the age at which I will see a dime of SS payments but hopefully I will live long enough for "my turn". The fact that I chose to delay gratification and saved some money above and beyond the SS program is beside the point and it is not a dilemma for me.
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:21 PM   #6
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If I (hopefully) end up with more assets than I need, then I am free to donate the excess, including any SS payments I received and commingled with the rest of my assets, to what ever good cause I like. Maybe some people will donate to SS, but it's not likely to be a favorite cause to many.
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by growing_older View Post
If I (hopefully) end up with more assets than I need, then I am free to donate the excess, including any SS payments I received and commingled with the rest of my assets, to what ever good cause I like. Maybe some people will donate to SS, but it's not likely to be a favorite cause to many.
+1. I'm looking forward to donating any residual assets I have in my old age or time of death to a private charity or cause of my choosing.
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:34 PM   #8
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Why do you apply this argument to not take what you do not need to SS? Would it not apply equally to pensions? Especially underfunded pensions. Or even to personal savings and investments?
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:43 PM   #9
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It's possible that I will die before the age at which I will see a dime of SS payments but hopefully I will live long enough for "my turn"...
I have always had a feeling my longevity will not be that great (I am still under 62). And when I die, my wife's SS benefit will step up to mine. However, she also worked most of her life. So, when her benefit steps up to mine, she is giving up hers.

SS already pays benefits to non-working spouses and divorced spouses, minor children of retirees, etc... There's a lot of built-in subsidy already. I do not care to subsidize my friend who made the same income and did not save.
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Old 08-09-2013, 12:40 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Shanky View Post
... We all have the choice not to file for benefits, but I do not hear about very many taking turning it down. (other than by dying younger than expected).

Anyone here considering not filing for benefits? I know many will reply they ""earned" the benefits, but that is not my point.
Okay, you go first.

I'm sure even those with smaller nest eggs could make retirement work without SS--what would be your cutoff point as to who conceivably might forego SS and who shouldn't?
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Old 08-09-2013, 12:48 AM   #11
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I would rather donate any leftover SS to charity than leave it with the government to indirectly fund all the NSA programs we haven't heard about yet.
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Old 08-09-2013, 02:21 AM   #12
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No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanky View Post
Anyone here considering not filing for benefits?
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Old 08-09-2013, 03:10 AM   #13
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No for pretty much the same reason that I also don't contribute money to reduce the government debt. I think there are better uses of my money.

That said I will not scream bloody murder if they try and means test my SS in the future, as long as other groups are also sacrificing.
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Old 08-09-2013, 05:05 AM   #14
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If I happen to not need SS then I still plan on taking it, and our children will benefit from more inherited assets towards funding their future retirements.
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Old 08-09-2013, 05:27 AM   #15
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Awhile back, I ran some numbers and made a table that showed what year I could retire, with a 95% chance of success, for an annual withdrawal of $30K, $35K, etc on up to $100K.

I actually did two tables, one assuming SS at 62 and my meager non-cola'ed pension at 65. The other table assumed I got neither. Interestingly, with no SS/pension, it only delayed my retirement by 1-2 years for any given scenario.

Still, that's one or two years of my life that I would be giving up, by not taking SS and working longer. I'm not willing to do that.

And, as the others have said, I've scrimped, saved, sacrificed, and delayed gratification. I should not be punished for that.
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Old 08-09-2013, 06:22 AM   #16
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This question reminds me of the riposte to people who believe tax rates should go up that they should voluntarily give extra money to the government. The problem with the suggestion is that it doesn't help resolve the underlying issue. A handful of volunteers will not fix SS for the upcoming generations, it is like pissing in the wind. I would not feel good taking such an action, I would feel stupid. The only sensible solution is structural change. This is an especially disingenuous argument when it comes from people who believe government is inefficient and ineffective. They should instead be suggesting that people contribute to charities or other entities that directly achieve the desired goals.
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Old 08-09-2013, 06:49 AM   #17
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Ours will be a small amount but not taking it has never occurred to me. If we don't need it we'll give it to someone that does.
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Old 08-09-2013, 07:05 AM   #18
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I'm not going to make that judgement until (hopefully) I reach that time. If we need it, we will use it. If we don't need it, we'll still file but will use it to help our kids, family, and others. Not filing for for something you have contributed to really doesn't help others, its not like it goes to charity if you don't file for it.
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Old 08-09-2013, 07:13 AM   #19
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There is no moral dilemma for me.
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Old 08-09-2013, 07:17 AM   #20
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If I die with leftover cash (not that I want to do the former, but do want the latter), I would rather decide in my will where these funds go and not leave it to the govt to choose.
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