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Online Chat: The Future of Medicare and Social Security

Missed the July 27 conversation? Read the transcript

In 2012, as you may know, the monthly premium for Medicare Part B is $99.90. According to the latest projections from the Medicare Trustees, Medicare Part B premiums are projected to increase by about $15 per month to $115.00 by 2014.

Higher income beneficiaries — those whose incomes exceed $85,000 — do pay higher Medicare premiums.

Comment From Vernon Clark: My question is, I am 50 years old now; why haven't we gone to a system where we could put our Social Security in our own account or saving plan, which would double by the time I'm 65? If I did, then my age group would not rise to 69 or 70, so I could retire at a better healthier age?

David Certner, AARP:  Thanks, Vernon. Putting Social Security into private accounts is a risky proposition. As we’ve seen recently, years of savings can vanish quickly and there is no guarantee those savings can be recovered by the time we need them. That is why AARP — and the American public — opposed the effort a few years ago to change Social Security to private accounts.

Social Security is the basis for a secure retirement — it provides a guaranteed stream of income for life, protected from inflation. However, Social Security was not meant to be the only source of income, and we all need to save in addition to Social Security.

Comment From John Sarafian: With a reduced population providing less monies into the Social Security system, it would be essential that we raise the portion of monies that are taxed by Social Security from $96,000 to $250,000 a year. That would extend the coverage period for more than 40 years. Why doesn't AARP take a position on this issue? Also, this week's Sunday Times pointed out the difficulty most people would have trying to manage their own monies over a lifetime for retirement.

David Certner, AARP:  Thanks for the question, John. The article you mention raises a great point — accumulating and managing savings in retirement is very difficult to do, and most have not saved nearly enough. This is why Social Security is so important. For most retirees, Social Security is the only income they will receive that is guaranteed for life and protected from inflation. This is likely to become more true as employers shift away from guaranteed pensions.

Raising the tax cap for Social Security (currently $110,100) is one option being discussed in Washington to strengthen Social Security. For example, the Social Security actuaries estimate that raising the tax cap to about $215,000 would close about a third of the long-term funding gap. For more information on this option — including the pros and cons — check out our website at www.earnedasay.org.

Next: What safeguards are in place to eliminate waste, fraud and graft in the Medicare system? »

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