How big is your retirement package? Benefits from government retirement programs—Social Security and Medicare—vary over time, but the trend has been toward higher lifetime benefits for each successive cohort. Expansion derives mainly from increases in real annual benefits, more years of benefits through longer lifespans, and better and more expensive health care. In 1960, a couple where each spouse earned constant “average” wages over a career beginning at age 22 and retired on his or her 65th birthday would receive about $300,000 in health and retirement benefits; today, that figure is over $1 million in health and retirement benefits (figure 1). The expected benefits for couples turning 65 in 2050—age 30 today—are scheduled to rise under current law to almost $2 million.
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