Take myself as an example. Aged 61, my loving wife is 51. I have paid into Social (in)Security for nearly 50 years. But if I die before I begin collecting, all the money I paid in is gone. My family gets nothing. Certainly, if my wife happens to be at least 60 (she is not), THEN she could get survivor's benefits. If she is not 60 or older, she gets nada. And even if she is over 60, she still gets cheated - if she collects survivor's benefits at 60, when she later retires at 66 she gets her own (smaller) retirement benefit and loses the survivor's benefit.
In other words, no matter how you cut it, my family will pretty much lose every penny I paid in. Bear in mind, that was MY money, supposedly put into trust for me. Or, as FDR so famously lied, it would go into a "Lock Box" for our old age. The problem is, there never was a "lock box" and the government has been stealing that money ever since, to use for other things.
Now consider this - having been self-employed, I pay both my share and the employer share into SS. That's 10.4% of my income, not counting Medicare tax. I have earned a lot in my life - I estimate I have paid over $440,000 into my Social Security. That's almost a half million bucks, folks. And you have already seen what I can expect to get back. Even if I do live to retirement (I won't count on it, since I have emphysema), I would only collect a paltry $1419/month. I would have to live, and collect, until age 91 just to break even! Imagine putting all that money away and not getting ANY interest on it. And if, like the average person I were to collect for 12 years, I would only receive half of what I paid in. I'll tell ya, even the slots at Vegas pay off better than that - you normally win about 2/3 of what you play.
Now figure out how much money I would have for my retirement if I had put that same money into an account that did not collected a dime in interest for 50 years, and only paid interest just this one year alone. I would collect $22,500 in interest, whereas my benefits would only be $17,028. Now imagine how much interest I would be collecting each year if all my payments had been compounding at a meager 5%/year for 50 years! The principle would be almost $10 million and the annual interest alone would be almost a half million bucks!
Compare that to the paltry $1419/month Social Security would "allow" me to collect IF I live long enough.
Social Security is a fraudulent racket, one that would make Al Capone flip in astonishment. If the government were treating us with honesty, every dime we put in would actually be held in an untouchable trust (the Lock Box FDR promised), invested in U.S. Treasuries and other safe investments and paying interest into our accounts. then, upon retirement, we would be paid a lifetime annuity based on the balance in our account.
Just like if we invested it ourselves, only it would be a "forced" savings.
But that will never happen for two reasons - it would be the honest thing to do, and the government would never let go of its hold on all that money.