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Greetings, MikeC, and welcom to Fooldom.

<<1. Is it true that when my wife and I retire we will only get one social security check, based on the highest wage earner? Don't we both get back all the money we paid into the system (in theory)?

2. Why not do away with the social security system as we know it and instead have mandatory self directed retirement accounts? Instead of paying to SS, we pay the same amount to a self directed investment account. Isn't the government supposedly trying to help us help ourselves with the whole SS system??? I think they are helping themselves!>>

Gee... I take it you don't like Social Security.

No, it is definitely NOT true that when you retire you and your spouse will get only one check based on the highest earner's work record. If both of you worked and paid into the system at least 40 quarters (10 years), then you will BOTH receive a check based on your own work record. If both of you retire at age 65+ to receive a 100% benefit AND the lower earner's benefit is not at least 50 % of the highest earner's benefit, then the lower earner will get additional money to bring that check up to at least half of what the higher earner gets.

Whether we should make radical changes or do away with the system entirely is a political matter. Valid arguments for and against various stances can be made, and they are far beyond the scope of this folder. But prior to making sweeping statements damning the whole concept, perhaps you might be better served by learning a little bit about the subject first. To that end, I highly recommend you point your browser to and do a little reading. Who knows? You may just learn that your FICA doesn't just go towards a check you get in your old age, but instead encompasses a whole range of programs for the workforce of which retirement is but one.

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