Are you ‘entitled’ or just ‘due?’

Every once in a while we receive emails that contains topics or information people feel strongly about. Sometimes they want us to print it in the News Exchange.
Most of the time, these emails have been bouncing around the internet, sometimes for years. They sound reasonable and most people take them at face value.
Whenever I receive such an email, the first thing I do is go to the Snopes website, which is a clearing house for the mishmash of items generally termed “urban legends.” The site has a very good record for digging out the truth.
So far, I think, every single such email I have seen has been proven false (if you want to see an exhaustive list of explanations, go to www.snopes.com).
This week, I received another email and, while some of the specifics are not accurate, this one can be perceived as generally true. There are several versions of the email floating around and the one I received has had a few paragraphs edited out. Here is the text:

“Social Security now called ‘federal benefit payment’/entitlement!

Have you noticed, your Social Security check is now referred to as a “Federal Benefit Payment”?
I’ll be part of the one percent to forward this. I am forwarding it because it touches a nerve in me, and I hope it will in you. Please keep passing it on until everyone in our country has read it.
The government is now referring to our Social Security checks as a “Federal Benefit Payment.” This isn’t a benefit – its earned income! Not only did we all contribute to Social Security but our employers did too.
It totaled 15 percent of our income before taxes. If you averaged $30K per year over your working life, that’s close to $180,000 invested in Social Security. If you calculate the future value of your monthly investment in social security ($375/month, including both your and your employer’s contributions) at a meager 1 percent interest rate compounded monthly, after 40 years of working you’d have more than $1.3-plus million dollars saved!
This is your personal investment.
Upon retirement, if you took out only 3 percent per year, you’d receive $39,318 per year, or $3,277 per month. That’s almost three times more than today’s average Social Security benefit of $1,230 per month, according to the Social Security Administration (Google it – it’s a fact).
And your retirement fund would last more than 33 years (until you’re 98 if you retire at age 65)! I can only imagine how much better most average-income people could live in retirement if our government had just invested our money in low-risk interest-earning accounts.
Instead, the folks in Washington pulled off a bigger Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madoff ever did. They took our money and used it elsewhere. They “forgot” that it was OUR money they were taking. They didn’t have a referendum to ask us if we wanted to lend the money to them.
And they didn’t pay interest on the debt they assumed. And recently, they’ve told us that the money won’t support us for very much longer. But is it our fault they misused our investments?
And now, to add insult to injury, they’re calling it a “benefit,” as if we never worked to earn every penny of it. Just because they “borrowed” the money, doesn’t mean that our investments were a charity! Let’s take a stand.
We have earned our right to Social Security and Medicare. Demand that our legislators bring some sense into our government – Find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare going, for the sake of that 92 percent of our population who need it.
Then call it what it is: Our Earned Retirement Income.
99 percent of people won’t forward this.
You and I will.”

According to Snopes, the benefit and entitlement terminology is nothing new and commonly used by the government – but that still does not leave it faultless. Also, Social Security does not claim 15 percent of our pre-tax income, but does get a lot of it; the rate reported last year was 12.4 percent and it included FICA with Social Security and Medicare in it the total then was up to 15.3 percent.
So, is this letter then “true?”
You decide, and then consider what and, if so, what to do about it.
JLW

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