Monthly Archives: September 2013

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The Untidy Case of Miss Ida May Fuller, of Ludlow, Vermont

The subject of our story is one Miss Ida May Fuller, who did retire in late 1939, having paid Social Security taxes for a smidgen shy of three years. The payroll tax for Social Security had gone into effect in January, 1937, and she, as a legal secretary, had paid precisely $24.75 into the Social Security system prior to her retirement, as is shown in her record at the Social Security Administration Website. (Her employer(s), presumably, had paid the same amount, under the law current at the time, so a grand total of $49.50 had been “contributed” to Social Security, if not entirely upon her behalf, at least because of her employment situation.)

Our dear Miss Fuller was one of those who lives a rather long time, as she died at age 100, in 1975, and so she collected Social Security pension, or old-age, payments for thirty-five years or so. By the time Miss Fuller had shuffled off this mortal coil she had collected precisely $22,888.92 from the Social Security Administration, from her “contribution” of $24.75 between January, 1937, and late 1939. That is quite a remarkable feat for any investor, would you not say, to increase an investment by 92,480% over the course of thirty-five years? Yes, well, one supposes she had some help in that regard, even without knowledge of the precise source of that “help”.

All of these numbers and such can, and often do, inflame the imaginational juices to flow, and so your correspondent got down to a little computation, what his Pastor might call “shucking the corn right down to the cob”. So I went online at, and looked at my account, where I found that, as of the end of 2012, I had paid just a little more than $83,000 in Social Security taxes, and that does exclude Medicare taxes during my working lifetime to this point. Of course this figure set the muse’s boat to rocking, and after a quick calculation wherein I determined that Miss Ida May Fuller had received 924.8 times the amount she had personally “paid in” to Social Security in benefits, I simply had to do the multiplication on my own account, assuming I could retire tomorrow.

I’ve paid $83,000 in Social Security taxes.

$83,000 * 924.8 = $76,758,400 – so that’s what I, based upon Social Security payout recipient number one, should receive during my retirement years. Wow! That’s. Just. Incredible.

Suppose I live another thirty-four years post-retirement? (Not thirty-five years, since my “official” retirement age is now sixty-six.)

That comes out to $76,758,400 / 34 years = $2,257,600 / year. Again, that’s just unbelievable. Now we’re going to “shuck a little closer to the cob”, and find out something else.

$2,257,600 /year divided by 12 months per year comes out to $188,133.33 a month. Or $6,719.05 a day in three Februaries out of four, and as little $6,068.82 a day in January, March, May, July, August, October, and December. All in all, that’s a pretty doggone attractive corn cob!

(The reader will note that I have omitted to mention the “employers’ contributions” herein, as they seem not to have a part in these calculations based upon the figures revealed by the Social Security Administration.)

Of course, the Untidy Case of Miss Ida May Fuller is not the kind of thing Social Security was supposed to bring to pass. The House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee hearings make it perfectly clear that it was all about economic recovery, and helping the poor, and the down-trodden, and above all the children in those awful “post-Depression” times. And yet. And yet. Miss Ida May Fuller did most certainly receive that multiplier of 924.8 upon her “contribution”, is it not so? She was one of the blessed few who become centenarians before they are finished, and most of us are not of that number. Even so.

Was not Social Security about fairness? About the “New Deal” for the “little guy” and the “working man” and the “impoverished family”? Do we not still have the “little guy” and the “working man” today? And do we not have, as well, that “impoverished family” today? Why does a Miss Ida May Fuller get to enjoy this kind of largesse from the rest of us, but we do not get to expect the same in our declining years?

I am thinking that, upon the date set for my “official retirement”, which will be November 14, 2017, I should bring suit against the Social Security Administration (and anyone else a team of good lawyers can haul into the thing) for immediate payout of the complete and total amount that I will have, at that time, “paid in to” Social Security, multiplied by the “Ida May Fuller” factor of 924.8.

Why don’t you consider doing the same kind of thing? It seems we’ve already lost anyway, so what is there to lose?

Be sweet.