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Chapter 8. Social Security and Social Insurance. Social Security Act of 1935. Requirements at that time: Retirement Age: 65 Payroll Tax: 1\% for employer and employee Tax applied to the first $3000 of earned income. Social Security in the United States. OASDI: Old Age Survivors

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chapter 8

Chapter 8

Social Security and Social Insurance

social security act of 1935
Social Security Act of 1935

Requirements at that time:

  • Retirement Age: 65
  • Payroll Tax:
    • 1% for employer and employee
    • Tax applied to the first $3000 of earned income
social security in the united states
Social Security in the United States
  • OASDI:
    • Old Age
    • Survivors
    • Disability Insurance 
  • HI: Health Insurance (Medicare) 
  • UI: Unemployment Insurance
slide4
FICA

Federal Insurance Contribution Act

  • Employers and employees each currently contribute 7.65% of wages in FICA tax.
  • 15.3 % for the self-employed
  • Taxes applied on earned income up to $87,000 in 2003 (indexed).
fully funded vs pay as you go
A Fully Funded system: current fund has balances sufficient to pay the present value of all future obligations.

A Pay-As-You-Go system: current taxes pay for current benefits.

Fully Funded vs Pay-As-You-Go

The current U.S.system is a modified pay-as-you-go system with a trust fund as backup.

social security trust fund
Social Security Trust Fund
  • Since 1982, Social Security taxes collected have greatly exceeded benefits paid out.
  • The trust fund is an accounting mechanism by which U.S. government debt is issued to the Social Security Administration in exchange for SS fund surpluses.
  • This debt will be sold to the public when taxes paid fall below what is needed to pay benefits.
retirement age
Retirement Age
  • People born prior to 1935 can retire with full benefits at 65. 
  • People born between 1936 and 1942 can retire with full benefits at age 65 + 2 months for every year after 1936 they were born. 
  • People born between 1943 and 1954 can retire with full benefits at age 66.
  • People born between 1955 and 1960 can retire with full benefits at age 66 + 2 months for every year after 1955 they were born. 
  • People born after 1960 can retire at full benefits at age 67.
how retirement benefits are computed
How Retirement Benefits are Computed
  • The AIME (Average Index of Monthly Earnings) calculates the highest 35 years of inflation-adjusted earnings, expressed in monthly terms.
  • The PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) is the amount to which a individual is entitled given their AIME. 
replacement rates
The Gross Replacement Rate is themonthly retirement benefit divided by the monthly labor earnings in the year prior to retirement.

The Net Replacement Rate is themonthly after-tax benefit divided by the monthly after-tax labor earnings in the year prior to retirement .

Replacement Rates
gross replacement rates by income 2002
Gross Replacement Rates by Income2002

Worker Status

Gross Replacement Rate

Low Earner

53.6%

Average Earner

39.9%

Maximum Earner

24.8%

slide11
Figure 8.1 How Gross Replacement Rates for Social Security Pension Recipients Vary with Pre-retirement Earnings

110

100

90

80

70

Gross Replacement

Rate (Percent)

60

50

40

30

20

10

0

1,000

2,000

3,000

4,000

Gross Monthly Earning in the Year

Prior to Retirement (Dollars)

spousal and dependent benefits
Spousal and Dependent Benefits

.5 of PIA is added for a spouse over age 65 and for each dependent child

divorce and the two income family
Divorce and the Two-Income Family
  • A woman who worked while married to a high income-earning husband will get nothing or virtually nothing for the taxes she paid. She and her husband would get 1.5 times his PIA if she earned nothing and 1.5 time his PIA if she earned a modest income.
  • Divorced people are entitled to either their own PIA or a spouse/widow benefit (whichever is larger). This applies to multiple spouses as well. Thus, breadwinners can have multiple people receiving half or full pensions based on a single taxpayer’s earnings.
other anomalies
Other Anomalies
  • When one party in a marriage dies, the benefit to the survivor depends on who made the money.
    • If both earned equal amounts, then when one dies the other receives their own amount.
    • If one earned all the money and the breadwinner dies, the survivor keeps the spouse’s pension (which is often quite a bit more).
  • Singles fair substantially worse than do married dependent partners with deceased breadwinning partners.
the importance of social security income to the elderly
The Importance of Social Security Income to the Elderly
  • 2/3 get more than half of their income from Social Security. 
  • Private pensions only account for 20% of elderly income. 
  • For low-income persons, Social Security is 80% of their monthly income.
  • More than 50% of the elderly would be below the poverty line without Social Security.
cost of living adjustments
Cost-of-Living Adjustments
  • Benefits are adjusted for inflation using the CPI. 
  • Because the CPI overstates inflation (by estimates in the neighborhood of 1.1 percentage points), Social Security benefits increase in real terms each year.
demographic changes
Demographic Changes

Birthrates have fallen such that the number of workers supporting each retiree has fallen from more than 30 in the 1950s to below 5 beginning in 1990. Projections show that fewer than 3 workers will support each retiree by 2030; shortly thereafter, fewer than 2 workers will support each retiree.

algebraic look at the result of demographic changes under a pay as you go system
Algebraic Look at the Result of Demographic Changes Under a Pay-as-You-Go system
  • t = (B × R)/(W × L)

Where:

  • t is total benefits paid
  • B is the average benefit
  • R is the number of recipients
  • W is taxable wages
  • L is the number of workers
algebraic rearranging
Algebraic rearranging
  • t = B/W×R/L= the average replacement rate × the dependency ratio 
  • The dependency ratio was below .1; it is currently above .3 and is steadily increasing, and will be at .5 in 2030.
slide20
Year

Basic OASDHI

Tax Rate

Combined Employer-Employee Tax Rate

Maximum Taxable Wages per Worker

Maximum Tax Based on Combined Rate

1937

1.00

2.00

$3,000

$60.00

1957

2.25

4.50

$4,200

$189.00

1967

4.40

8.80

$6,600

$528.00

1977

5.85

12.10

$16,500

$1,930.50

1987

7.15

14.30

$43,800

$6,263.40

1997

7.65

15.30

$65,000

$10,006.20

2003

7.65

15.30

$87,000

$13,615.50

proposals to reform social security
Proposals to Reform Social Security
  • Maintain benefits
    • Increase taxability of benefits
    • Invest Trust Fund in Corporate Securities
    • Eventually increase payroll tax rate by 1.6 percentage points
  • Individual Accounts
    • Raise retirement age
    • Reduce replacement rates for upper income people
    • Allow 1.6 percent of payroll to be placed in special retirement accounts
  • Personal Security Accounts
    • Allow half of payroll taxes to be placed in individually managed accounts
    • Reduce guaranteed benefit
figure 8 2 social security pensions and the work leisure choice
Figure 8.2 Social Security Pensions and the Work-Leisure Choice

A

B

C

A

A

U2

U2

F

U1

Income per Day

E'

H

E

$30

G

G

$30

B

B

0

4

9

14

19

24

0

L1

L2

24

Leisure Hours per Day

working while eligible for social security benefits
Working While Eligible for Social Security Benefits
  • People may work and receive Social Security benefits.
  • If they receive benefits with the reduced benefits option at age 62, they lose $1 in benefits for every $2 they earn over approximately $10,000.
  • Those older than 65 may earn any amount and keep their benefits.
  • If they choose not to receive benefits, they receive a greater Social Security benefit when they decide to begin receiving them.
savings incentives of social security
Savings Incentives of Social Security
  • Asset Substitution Effect: People save less than they would if Social Security did not exist, because they are substituting government promises of a benefit for private savings. Stated simply, people save less because government is “saving” for them. 
  • Induced Retirement Effect: People save more than they would if Social Security did not exist because they would not have retired or would not have retired as early had Social Security not been there. Given that it does exist, people choose to ultimately retire or retire earlier and save in order to do so. 
  • Bequest Effect: People save more than they would have if Social Security did not exist in order to bequeath more to their children and grandchildren.
figure 8 3 the asset substitution effect
Figure 8.3 The Asset Substitution Effect

A

B

A

A

E

Consumption per Year after Retirement

R

G2

F

G

E

R2

Social

U1

F

Security

Social

Pension

Security

U1

U2

Pension

D

C

B

0

D

C

B

0

S

S'

T

S

T

Consumption per Year Prior to Retirement

the net effect of social security on savings
The Net Effect of Social Security on Savings
  • Feldstein: Social Security leads to a substantial reduction in savings
  • Munnell: The net effect of the ASE, BE, and IRE is nearly zero 
medicare
Medicare

The program provides substantially subsidized health insurance to those 65 and older. It is financed with premiums, a 2.9% payroll tax (1.45% each for employers and employees) and general government revenue.

  • Part A:
    • Mandatory
    • Covers hospitalization
    • Financed with payroll tax and premiums
  • Part B:
    • Voluntary
    • Covers doctor’s visits
    • Financed from general federal revenue and premiums
unemployment insurance
Unemployment Insurance
  • Covers nearly all full-time workers
  • Financed with a payroll tax on employers up to $7000 of earnings
  • Gross Replacement Rate: 33% 
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