Talking Points

Baby boomers: Now eligible for Social Security

Meet Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, “Public Enemy No. 1,” said Dana Milbank

in The Washington Post. “Her offense? Being born.” Casey-Kirschling, you see, is generally recognized as being the nation’s first baby boomer, having been born just after midnight on Jan. 1, 1946. And this week, the retired New Jersey schoolteacher signed up for Social Security benefits—a generational first that could mark the moment the U.S. officially began to go bankrupt. That’s because Casey-Kirschling will be the first of some 80 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 to turn 62 and start clamoring for their monthly retirement benefits. Without radical reform, Social Security will go into the red in 2017, on its way to insolvency.

“I’m blessed to be able to take my Social Security now,” Casey-Kirschling said. “I’m lucky to be at the top of the boom.”

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This is one baby boomer milestone we’d be wise not to ignore, said Liz Taylor in The Seattle Times. Yes, boomers tend to find their journey

through life endlessly fascinating. But the fact is, we’re on the cusp of a “demographic tsunami” of historic proportions. It’s a matter of simple math,

said the St. Petersburg, Fla., Times in an editorial.

At the end of World War II, 42 workers were paying into the system for each retiree drawing funds out. Today, the ratio is three workers per

retiree. In a couple of decades, boomer retirements will make the ratio two-to-one. Saving Social Security actually isn’t that complicated: We’ll need some combination of raising the retirement age, cutting benefits, and increasing payroll taxes. But try finding a politician willing to support any of those necessary reforms.

As a card-carrying baby boomer, said Mark Patinkin in The Providence Journal, all this Social Security talk is bumming me out. It’s not

the system’s looming insolvency that’s getting to me, but rather the fact that I’m actually of an age at which I need to care. Like many of my

generational cohort, “I still, illogically, see myself as part of the youth culture.” But I can no longer deny the obvious. My first big jolt came recently when I saw a commercial for a retirement plan featuring Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” playing in the background. That’s right:

The ultimate ’60s drug anthem is being used to sell 401(k)s. Now comes the shocking news that a fellow boomer is actually going on Social Security. It’s official: We’re getting old.

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