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Subject:  Fools & Retirement (David Braze) Date:  4/6/2000  3:01 PM
Author:  RoseAndy Number:  3432 of 20788

Having been a retirement plan consultant/administrator for over 25 years (since ERISA passed in Sept. 1974), I thoroughly enjoyed your subject article. The firm which I founded (I'm now retired), designs and administers various types of retirement plans from defined benefit to profit sharing, 401(k), for businesses, professionals, etc as well as gov't & non-profit organization plans. Many times over the years,I had to respond to complaints/questions on social security ranging from the non-existent investment return to concerns that "there won't be anything left when I retire". It is obvious to us in our profession that social security is a vital leg in providing retirees that additional comfort factor to supplement a company retirement plan, for those fortunate enough to have one, along with personal savings, home equity, etc. For those of us who receive social security and have to pay income taxes, congratulations, because it means that our current income is high enough to be subject to taxation. Many, many retirees do not have sufficient current income to pay taxes and need social security to provide basic living costs. The recent decision that allows retirees to continue working without having benefits reduced is long overdue and is a boon to many seniors who need the extra income.

Also,you questioned whether many of us would have funded a personal retirement plan if we weren't forced to contribute to social security. You were too gentle in your comments; very, very few of us would have felt we could afford or would have the discipline to set aside earnings to fund some vague eventual retirement (I would not have, working through college, four kids, etc.)and let's remember that our employer(s) were required to MATCH our contributions, which means we would have had to double our outlay over the years.

Lastly, I don't think that the Medicare benefits can be over-emphasized. Even those of us who are well off should appreciate the fact that if we, along with our employer(s), had not been required to contribute to the Hospital Insurance fund, a severe medical problem or extended illness could wipe out all of our personal savings, home, and other assets. Medicare provides me with a huge comfort factor and over-shadows the social security payments I receive monthly. Further, if my mother did not have social security and Medicare (she is 94 years old), I can assure you that she could not have afforded her living costs, would have despised depending on me to help her, and I would not be in the better than average financial position I am at age 68.

Doubt that you have the time to read this long message (didn't intend it to be so), but wanted to express my opinions and thank you for your article.

Andy Poirier
the costs necessarry to keep her going and would
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