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Well, you can plug in different specific numbers, but in any event it doesn't seem to me that a $50,000 phaseout range would discourage private saving when at most SS would probably pay out about $20,000. I'm not going to blow all my money and fail to save so I can earn $69,000 in retirement ($49K plus $20K in SS) instead of $100,000.

But $69K could provide most people with a very comfortable lifestyle.

One problem with income as a means test is that income in retirement has a significant discretionary component to it. You can live quite well on a fairly low income by carefully selecting which securities you sell.
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