One of the greatest social issues that Americans are facing today involves retirement. Everyone has heard people say that they cannot wait until they turn 65 so they can retire in a beach and spend of all of their time fishing. However, present day seniors are quickly discovering that it is not as easy, automatic, or beneficial to retire at age 65, as it once was. Retirement is not just about ending a lifetime of work, but having means of income being provided as a retirement fund, a “nest egg” saved, of some kind of pension plan may find that reaching 65 is not the end life’s struggles, but just a beginning. Many senior Americans are finding that they cannot retire at 65 and hope to be able to meet all of their needs. This means that senior will find themselves needing to live a lower income life or turn to the government funded social security. However, recent political debates have shown concerns that there will not be a social security program left by the time they reach the appropriate age. That said all of this information combined it definitely offering some solid proof that the idea of retirement at 65 is more myth and faith in a failing promise.
Age 65 was not always the “acceptable” time to cease working. In fact, there was no such for many, many years. If a person was healthy and able they might continue to work their whole lives, right into their death beds. In the late 19th century Germany's Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, declared that there would be old-age social insurance plan. He believed that everyone who was too aged and infirm should receive some stipend to aid in their livelihood as they enter their last phases of their lives. However, the original age decide in Germany was age 70. The United States did not adopt such a system until 1935 and the choosing of 65 was not arbitrary. The age was chosen based on surveys and polls of when, on average, to most workers begin to slow and become less productive and active. The age of 65 was then assigned (Social Security Administration, 2014).
Today, there are more and more aging Americans who are realizing that, financially speaking, they will inevitably have to find other means of income after they ‘officially” retire. Others have opted just to postpone their retirement all together and continue working. It is shocking for many Americans when they find that the “retirement promise is a fantasy and the idea of everyone being able to retire at 65 is a myth in our modern world. In the media, like television and films, offer a stereotyped ideal of all aging Americans migrating to beautiful retirement locales in Florida and Palm Springs. This is a myth. The reality is that more than a third of all Americans do not and will not have saved anything with their future retirement in mind (Hellmich, 2014).
There are a number of reasons for this. Many businesses no longer offer fantastic retirement plans to their employees and many believe that at least social security will be there for them, but that too is no longer a guarantee or promise that the government can make (Eisenberg, 2014). The truth of the matter is that if people do not save monies or are independently wealthy then it is inevitable that they will find themselves economically disadvantaged when they reach retirement. So many retired Americans are having difficult times living on the government funds and have no other sources of income and are forced to return to the workforce. Many of these people are forced to seek other forms of government aid, just to make ends meet and keep food on their tables.
This is hardly the “American Dream” that so many people believe will happen to each and every citizen. We will have a great job, make a fair living, provide for ourselves and loved ones, buy a house, own a car, and when we retire it is all about yachts and relaxing on the beach. The recent economic troubles that many Americans are still recovering from as we speak, has shown that life is not how American mythology tells us that it should be. Today people, of all ages, struggle more than ever to find employment, keep roofs over their heads, and attempt to lives some kind of meaningful life. In the end it is essential that individuals not rely on companies or the government to aid them when they need it, instead they need make a conscious effort to save and plan ahead (Hellmich, 2014). This may mean making small financial sacrifices presently, but in the further they will be incredibly beneficial to you in the long run.
The illusion of worry free retirement is anything but free. We have to start taking the goals and needs of retirement into own hands. Making sounder and proactive decisions about how to spend and save money with a focus on planning for one inevitable retirement. If not then it is very likely that up-and-coming generation of elderly will have nothing saved and will inevitably find themselves working low-paying job just to pay their bills or simply not having the option to retire at all and continued to work until it becomes physically impossible. This is hardly the ideal and it is certainly not what was intended when the insurance for the aging was established. Unfortunately, due to several years of poor leadership, the economics in the United States are not improving enough to effect causative changes, which means that the United States government may not have the monies required to operate such a program in the future. It is very possible that the generations to come will no longer have such options and society’s member will no longer contemplate retirement at any age, at anytime. This is a sad and cruel reality that may be faced by many seniors who have already worked hard their entire lives.
Eisenberg, R. (2014, March 22). U.S. retirement poll: The big lie and the big fantasy. Forbes Magazine, 1. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/03/22/u-s-retirement-poll-the-big-lie-and-the-big-fantasy/
Hellmich, N. (2014, August 18). A third of people have nothing save for retirement. USA Today, 1. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/08/18/zero-retirement-savings/14070167/
Social Security Administration. (2014). Age 65 retirement. Retrieved from http://www.ssa.gov/history/age65.html