Social (In)Security

Last Updated May 15, 2009 4:33 PM EDT

The Obama Administration said that Social Security is going broke sooner than expected. Medicare is projected to run out of money in 2017, two years sooner than projected last year and the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2037, four years earlier than predicted, and I believe the exact year that I am due to collect my very first Social Security check. Sigh.

Sick of this same old story? Me too, because the answer is so clear: we need to change the Social Security full retirement age to account for the change in life expectancy. According to the Social Security Administration, when FDR signed the Social Security legislation in 1935, the life expectancy of a 65-year old American was 12.5 years. Today, the life expectancy of the same 65-year old American is 18 years.

Indexing to life expectancy may not do the whole job of shoring up the system, but it would be a start. Of course, don't expect any politician to tackle Tip O'Neill's "third-rail of politics" any time soon. That would actually mean telling the truth and making hard decisions, not kicking the can down the road.
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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Editor-at-Large for CBS MoneyWatch. She covers the economy, markets, investing or anything else with a dollar sign. Prior to the launch of MoneyWatch in 2009, Jill was the chief investment officer for an independent investment advisory firm. In her infancy, she was an options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York.

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