Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Neither Secure Nor Social, Actually

I got that little booklet in the mail last night, the one from the Social Security Administration that tells you about your earnings over your working lifetime. I always read it sort of carefully because I'm fascinated. I think it's akin to why I'm fascinated by my sitemeter stats.

So, no, I don't have any explanation whatsoever for why it's fascinating. Here are 10 things I see in it, though.

1. I have been a legal wage earner since 1986, the year before I graduated from high school.

2. My lowest wage earning year was 1986. But not by much.

3. My highest wage earning year was 2004. It's not a coincidence that was the last presidential election year and I took a lot of guff from a lot of angry, frightened, gloaty Gore opponents as part of my job. Flip side, I also got to meet Lauren Hutton.

4. Last year was was my second highest wage earning year but it trails '04 by about $4K on paper. It trails by a lot more if you factor in the way my benefits are paid. A lot more.

5. We've been talking a lot about this $250,000 earning figure. People who earn that much in a year, people who have that much in their bank accounts, what their hardships might be and whatnot. It took me until 2003 to break $250,000 in total earnings over the course of my working lifetime.

6. In 1999 I made just over half of what I made in 1998. That would be the year I ran away from home and met Zelda. Totally worth it.

7. 1995 was my second lowest wage earning year. I earned $130 more than I earned in my first reported earnings year, 9 years previously. That was the year I ran away from home and went to grad school in London.

8. I have not yet collected unemployment benefits though I have been unemployed rather a lot as illustrated by the roller coaster of earnings in my report. Upon reflection I probably should have done so rather than draining family, friends and savings as much.

9. 1992 was the first year that I earned a 5 digit income, just barely. I graduated from college in 1991.

10. If I work until I am 70 at the current earnings projections my monthly payment (lots of assumptions here, for instance Social Security will still exist 30 years from now) will be more than twice what made in my lowest earning year. Actually it will be more than twice what I made in my second lowest earning year. As a matter of fact not until 1989 did I earn significantly more in a year than my projected monthly payout amount.


  1. Anonymous11:22 PM

    This totally felt like one of those math questions...

    "Kizz has worked for 20 years. She earned a total of $250,000 by year 7. If she earned twice as much in year two as she did in year one, how much did she make last year?"

    And you know what? Thinking about social security is just about as much fun as those damn math problems.

  2. I clicked to post exatly what Jules posted.
    Those damn math problems!

    Getting those embarrasses me BTW.
    Waiting tables through my 20's and I don't even need to say out load why that embarrasses me.

  3. I also find these statements fascinating. And sort of depressing because my gut tells me that money ain't gonna be there for us when we retire.

  4. I can WRITE the word problems I just can't solve them.

    Yeah, Kath, I look at the monthly figure and I get this brief sigh of relief followed by this gasp of realization.