The cultural effects of an aging population
- Social Security
- Supplemental Security Income
- The Future
The improvements in nutrition, health care, and medicine have lengthened the lifespan of Americans but with this good fortune come new challenges for our culture. The elderly population in particular is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Today, those over the age of sixty five represent around thirteen percent of the total population. By the year 2030, this figure is estimated to be around twenty percent. Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, make up about thirty percent of our population and their approaching retirement will cause inevitable shifts in our society (Gorin, 2011; Gokhale, 2010).
This paper will look at key questions posed by this trend. What programs are available to help the elderly? Will older Americans continue to work or retire? What kinds of health care will they need? How much will they need for their retirement? More importantly, how will public and private programs react to these demographic changes? There are no clear cut answers but by analyzing these programs and trends Americans can better prepare themselves financially for the uncertain times that lie ahead.
Social Security is perhaps the most trusted and successful program for retiring Americans but much political strife has risen over the economic feasibility of this program. In the U.S., both employers and employees pay Social Security taxes. Funds generated by these taxes go to qualified beneficiaries ? those at retirement age or other qualifications. In this respect, today's workers provide the money for those currently drawing benefits. When today's workers retire, a new generation of workers will fund their retirement ? at least in theory. Benefits from Social Security are based on the amount of taxes you have paid in and are based on your income. If you pay more in Social Security taxes you will get more back. However, Social Security pays a disproportionate amount to lower income people and, in that respect, Social Security provides more for those in need (Gorin, 2011; Henslin & Fowler, 2010).
[...] (2010). Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support. (8th Ed). Belmont, CA. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Gokhale, J. (2010). Social Security: A Fresh Look at Reform Alternatives. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Gorin, S. (2011). The New Threat to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Health & Social Work, 165-167. [...]
[...] Food stamps, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are a local program subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Elderly, low income people may qualify for assistance in purchasing groceries. Food stamps, coupons, or credits can be used at most grocery stores for most food related products. Usually this program is handled by the county of residence and regulated by the state (Henslin & Fowler, 2010). The low income elderly may also take advantage of public housing programs. The U.S. [...]
[...] But this position is terribly wrong. Instead, a better designed reform of these programs can produce substantial savings and fiscal balance. Cutting benefits to retirees will meet stiff resistance as older Americans make up a significant portion of the voting population. Organizations such as the AARP, which boasts a membership of over fifty million, have strong lobbying against any reduction in benefits but eventually concessions will have to made. Due to the current recession, state revenues have slowed and Medicaid coverage has already been reduced. [...]
[...] They also indicate that funds will cover ninety five percent of entitled benefits over the next fifty years and about eighty eight percent over the next seventy five years. The challenges facing Social Security are instead dependent upon demographic and economic conditions. Changes may be needed in the rates of payroll taxes, age minimums, and qualifications but this change, undoubtedly, will meet resistance. Privatization of Social Security has gained support with the premise being that investments made in the private sector will grow faster. [...]
[...] How our culture reacts to this need is what is uncertain. It will take not only economic reforms, but a change in how we view our elderly. They are not a drain on society, as most people think, but a cherished asset. After a lifelong contribution into society and culture it is paramount that said society provides for its elderly members otherwise there would be no impetus to grow old. The time to prepare for retirement is now as the futures of these programs appear to be in jeopardy. [...]