Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Social Security turns 75 amid an uncertain future

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Albany/HV: Social Security turns 75 amid an uncertain future
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Believe it or not, Social Security has been around for 75 years. Our Steve Ference spoke with state officials who administer the program to find out how solid the program is right now and what you can expect in the future, whether you're already retired or just starting to work.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Ron Mikat, who's retired, said, "Currently I'm getting Social Security, but it allows me to live the life I had before."

Mikat is one of about two million New Yorkers who receives Social Security, a program celebrating 75 years. Officials say it's a major economic engine. New Yorkers receive about $3.5 billion in earned benefits each year.

Michael J. Burgess, NYS Office for the Aging Director, said, "It's important as we know for the survival of a lot of people."

Mindy Bockstein, NYS Consumer Protection Board Executive Director, said, "Retirees, disabled workers, surviving children and spouses have a safety net."

Rep. Paul Tonko said, "Might I suggest that every one of those 75 candles that burn on this cake today, provide the light that cuts the darkness for those most vulnerable, those most needy and our seniors."

Colleen C. Gardner, NYS Labor Commissioner, said, "This is a safety net we should preserve and protect for future generations of New Yorkers."

But amid all this talk of a successful program, folks here admit the program is taking in less than it's giving out as of this year. Leaving us to ask, what does all this mean whether you're young or older?

Paul Brown, Social Security Administration Area Director for New York, said, "With the economy and the recession, we may not be able to run a surplus for a year or two but we should run a surplus after that."

The problem is that more people getting benefits and high unemployment meaning fewer are paying in, leaving some politicians to discuss raising the retirement age, increasing payroll taxes, cutting your benefits or some combination.

Brown said, "I think we have time to address those issues."

The bottom line, while those folks near retirement age are just about guaranteed their checks, it's up to Washington to figure out what everyone else will get, even though you're required to pay into the system.

It's why we asked financial planner Steven Bouchey what to do, given the uncertainty.

"We tell clients don't rely too much on social security. We think it will be there, but we're not sure in what capacity. That means the burden is on us to make sure we do more of our fair share to provide for our income needs at retirement," said Bouchey.

Because while leaders assure your money will be there for years to come, retirees are left to hope it'll all get figured out for the future.

Mikat said, "Being an optimist, I think, it's going to be around for a long time to come and with grown kids, I'm hoping it's going to be around for them too."

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