In this critical time in our nation’s history, I find myself questioning the system, the institutions, and the foundation which our policies originated. Most recently, this distrust was brought to the extreme. An unnecessary, ugly and dishonorable extreme. Today’s post is not about the extreme, it’s about the spectrum and space between healthy skepticism and rebellion. It’s our job as citizens to question, to push back, to think independently and most importantly to vote for our beliefs. It’s also our job to research, as independently and as open-minded as we can, those topics and decisions of consequence.
For many retired and soon to be retiring Americans, Social Security is one of the most long-standing and pivotal institutions. I can’t site the source, yet I remember reading that Social Security had over 1,000 nuanced rules and regulations. Even after the passing of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which eliminated many loop holes and strategies, there remain an ocean of strategic decisions to be made between the ages of 62 and 70. Currently, there exists a strategy which by once you are over your full retirement age (66 for example), and collecting your Social Security benefit, you can suspend taking your benefit and in doing so you can earn additional credit until you decide to turn the benefit back on again (latest age 70). This is not a strategy for everyone and, although it is perfectly legitimate, if you call Social Security the odds are they’ll tell you you’re wrong! This institution, trusted with the rules and regulations could, and in several first-hand experiences will, give you a different answer each time you call. I don’t fault the employee on the other end of the phone, who is in all likelihood working from home, dealing with the weight of our current environment, paging through an ambiguous 1,000 rule playbook. I fault the institution and the policy itself for being so complex and unnecessarily cumbersome to begin with.
As we make our way through the year, there is no room for the extreme, but there is plenty of room for healthy skepticism in the institution. Especially those institutions that involve our money!
Happy Friday! Please stay healthy and be safe!