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Your Choices

As I see it, you have two choices: do nothing or do something. If you do nothing, you face the prospect of being like 20 percent of the people in this country today who retire on only Social Security. That's right—one in five Americans lives solely on Social Security checks.

For those who retire in 2003, the maximum Social Security benefit is just under $21,000. Imagine what your life would look like if you had to live on $21,000 per year. The average check per couple in 2003 is roughly $1,500 per month or $18,000 per year. About the only good news is that you wouldn't have to pay taxes on the benefit. Before you decide to do nothing, do the math on it. Calculate your cost of living today, adjust as necessary for children leaving home, and other events, and see how far $18,000–21,000 will take you.


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