4. Suppose you work your entire life and pay Social Security taxes week in and week out, but you earn relatively little in absolute terms and also relative to your spouse. You’d think that you’d get something back, at the margin, for all those years of paying, in combination with your employer, 12.4 percent of every dollar you earn. In fact, you may get not a penny more back in exchange for all the taxes you paid to Social Security, grueling work week after grueling work week, year and year.
Furthermore, your neighbor who works not a day for her/his entire life and pays no taxes whatsoever may end up with higher benefits than you because her/his spouse earned more than your spouse.
Getting you to pay taxes you entire life, pretending in its benefit reports that you are actually getting something back for all those taxes, and then giving you nothing extra back is well described as a gotcha.
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