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You don't say how old you are. If you are, say 45, you would probably be better off investing as much of your income as you can afford in a self-directed IRA/401K assuming the market grows at its traditional 10-12% rate. That's even considering Medicare which you would have to replace with private insurance. Even if we go into a 15 year recession (highly unlikely) and you buy only government bonds you still would be better off.

I'm 63 and I guess I am biased, looking at what IBM and I have put in and the paltry amount I would get for that "investment" if I stopped working today. When I retired from IBM five years ago I became an independent contractor. By putting the max (20%) into a 401K, if I retired today I would get more from that investment alone than I would receive from 35 years of SS contibutions. Some might say that I was helped by investing the max and the 20% growth we experienced over most of those years. On the other hand, I had the investment flexibility to take advantage of that situation which is not available under SS today.

If you go the 401K route, at retirement it would be YOUR money and would not be subject to the whims of Congress and the electorate.
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