Saturday, September 05, 2009

They won't let me.

A Nony Mouse opines:

"If you don't want government run health care, then kindly refuse to participate in government run retirement - Social Security. While you're at it, make sure you don't enroll in Medicare too."

Unfortunately, refusing to pay the FICA payroll tax (funds both Social Security and Medicare) winds up with humour-impaired people with big guns showing up at your house with a Federal Arrest Warrant.

Something about "tax evasion" -- which the Federal Government appears to take altogether too seriously.

Otherwise you think I wouldn't refuse to participate? Hell, yes, I would refuse -- I'd take that money that the government currently steals out of my paycheck and invest it my own damn self.

Not only would I actually receive the benefits of MY OWN SODDING MONEY, but I'd avoid those pesky little "Flemming v. Nestor" problems.

Thank you for playing, though.

LawDog

45 comments:

Erik said...

As someone living in a country with government run healthcare, and with experience being sick both here and in the US, I can only second that.
I'd love to keep the money they tax me with, and decide how to use it myself, but they wont let us do that here either.

And once they got the money, it's *their money* and you should be greatful if you get anything from them at all.

Old NFO said...

Concur LD... And realistically I'll be surprised if I see any Social Security $$. sigh...

WV-niverwkx Yep, it neverworks...

leadchucker said...

Nothing lights my fire faster than getting my yearly statements form the SSA showing how much I and my employers have paid into this system over the years.

It really lit me up this past October when I compared that amount to what the value of my IRA after that wonderful collapse and subsequent bailouts. Livid doesn't even come close.....

Don said...

We got a notice from the IRS that we owe them money from 2007. Among the problems were that we (well, H&R Block) apparently didn't disclose that we got $1500 worth of child-care assistance from our employer. I think we were confused because that was only a savings plan from our own pay, not money the employer paid to us.

Another issue was that we failed to pay "Self-Employment Tax" on my income from the ambulance service. I disclosed the income, mind you, and paid income tax on it, but since I wasn't self-employed, I didn't realize I had to pay "Self-Employment Tax."

If I'm reading the Politely Threatening Letter correctly, the Self-Employment Tax is for my Medicare and Social Security payments . . . . and I am assured that this is not considered optional.

However, I think I know where your misunderstanding comes in. Mouse was not suggesting that you decline to pay into the benevolent social safety net, merely that if you really believed in your principles, you would decline to receive services. I wager he/she would be puzzled at your explanation that you have to participate because they won't let you stop paying.

Dave said...

It quickly becomes one of those moral vs. pragmatic arguments. Morally, an individual should damn well be able to decide what investment plans they wish to make, and live by the decisions.

Pragmatically, if a few million of those people invest poorly, lose it all and wind up broke when they are too old to work, we get stuck paying for them anyway (or get stuck having to deal with a few million geriatric revolutionaries who dig up whatever guns they buried back during WWII and rob us for food.)

I invest well, and I THINK I will continue to do so. So even if SS collapses I should be more or less OK. But I am not having kids and don't have an extended family to care for me when I am old(er) and (more)senile. So if my stocks become worthless and there is no social security to pay for my daily meal of catfood and tap water, I'll have to feed myself either by stealing food or eating prison chow because I was arrested for stealing food.

Thanks for letting me know about the Nestor case. Fascinating reading. I made it a whole seven paragraphs before I found myself fantasizing about taking the 1960 Supreme Court and locking them in a room with a few dozen rabid wolverines. They had ... I will say they had one or two good points (technical details of SS financing mostly) but it was one of the worst cases I have seen from them.

Snigglefrits said...

Reminds me of a post I read at facebook the other day-

still wish all the nay sayers would go somewhere, not pay taxes, and never get any services. Then we would see how determined they are to deprive everyon of health care

Hmm...

Anonymous said...

Yea, I'd love to an extended leave in Galts' Gulch. (hey it was the first thing that came to mind when I read that)

woerm/THR


Blogger Snigglefrits said...

Reminds me of a post I read at facebook the other day-

still wish all the nay sayers would go somewhere, not pay taxes, and never get any services. Then we would see how determined they are to deprive everyon of health care

Hmm...

Jamie said...

I would have to do some research to be absolutely sure, but it seems to me that there is a way to not pay Soc Sec and Medicare taxes. If I'm remembering correctly, there is a form, that is usually used for ministers, that allows them to opt out of paying those taxes, which makes them ineligible for those benefits. The idea being that there are certain religions where a vow of poverty is taken and it is actually against a person's religion to accept any benefits from the government. I'm now very curious as to the accuracy of that memory, and need to do some research.

Anonymous said...

IIRC I was 16 when I got my first paycheck with a FICA deduction. Took me about 30 seconds to figure out what a Ponzu scheme the whole idea was. Of course this was in 1959 and the schools were still teaching math and economics(not to mention readin' and writin').
Your nany mouse is obviously a product of the later improved indoctrination system.
emdfl

LawDog said...

Pragmatically, if a few million of those people invest poorly, lose it all and wind up broke when they are too old to work, we get stuck paying for them anyway (or get stuck having to deal with a few million geriatric revolutionaries who dig up whatever guns they buried back during WWII and rob us for food.)

Which explains the staggering number of geriatric revolutions from 04MAR1789 (1st United States Congress) to 14AUG1935 (Social Security signed into law).

Da Curly Wolf said...

Dave,
locking them in a room full of enraged, rabid skunks would be vastly more entertaining. You need an oxygen tank to breathe from during clean up though.

Don said...

"Then we would see how determined they are to deprive everyon of health care"

Yeah, that seems like a fair characterization of my position . . . I do like to deny health care to people, and if I could deny it to everyone, that would really be a lot more fun.
One of my favorite pastimes is to go out on an ambulance call and move the oxygen mask away from the patient's face slowly until they start gasping like fish.
But it bothers me sometimes that not enough of these people are minorities, women, or single minority mothers. It's denying people health care, sure, but it's kind of empty. There's no bigotry in it.

ExGeeEye said...

Our esteemed opposition insists upon conflating "health care"-- which is, by law, available upon application to all-- and "getting medical services for 'free' because the government is 'paying' for it."

Personally I refuse to participate in any discussion on the subject unless my counterpart is willing to stipulate that "health care"-- medical treatment for acute illness or injury-- is already "universal". So far, no takers, but no one disputes the fact either...

Dave said...

(arguing more to prove a point rather than to defent a mathematically-doomed pyramid scheme that is corrupt even by government standards)

Well, we could bring up the overall lack of geriatric people in the USA in general back then, as life expectancy was nowhere near what it is today. If you use modern age definitions, i doubt there were more than a few dozen people in that age range at any given time in the 1800s. Or the lack of people overall, as we went from five million people (20% of whom were African decent, ie:slaves) in 1800 to seventy six million by year 1900. There were no staggering numbers of old people PERIOD back then, much less old people who were broke and lacked families. 

Or we could go into economic makeup of our history and cover things like how our population was mostly rural for much of that time (elderly people with no money in the country can presumably still hunt, fish and garden for food. 1880's shacks in the woods don't ecactly have to worry about rent/eviction. Today's largely urban/suburban folk don't have such options).

Or I could bring up a cheap shot like the fact that we DID have geriatric revolutionaries (if "older than the maximum life expectancy at the time" counts as "geriatric."). William Ide, Aaron Burr,  Robert E. Lee, Samuel Cooper and Geronimo were all older than the USA life expectancy of their times. 

And just toss in the fact that revolutions require large numbers of people working together, so it was wrong of me to use that term when "crime wave" would have been a much better fit. People steal food wgen they can't come by it honestly. 

But the only point that really matters is: what would YOU do if given the choice between starvation and crime?   

Off topic, but this anecdote from wikipedia I just ran across is just too interesting to leave out (does not prove anything on either side, just darn cool trivia tidbit).: "The first reported Social Security payment was to Ernest Ackerman, who retired only one day after Social Security began. Five cents were withheld from his pay during that period, and he received a lump-sum payout of seventeen cents from Social Security."

---Sent from my phone.---

On Sep 5, 2009, at 9:35 PM, LawDog wrote:

LawDog has left a new comment on the post "They won't let me.":

Pragmatically, if a few million of those people invest poorly, lose it all and wind up broke when they are too old to work, we get stuck paying for them anyway (or get stuck having to deal with a few million geriatric revolutionaries who dig up whatever guns they buried back during WWII and rob us for food.)

Which explains the staggering number of geriatric revolutions from 04MAR1789 (1st United States Congress) to 14AUG1935 (Social Security signed into law).

Post a comment.

Unsubscribe to comments on this post.

Posted by LawDog to The LawDog Files at 11:35 PM

Anonymous said...

Okay, so SS is a Ponzi scheme. Pragmatically, however, without it the average Boobus Americanus would likely end up somewhere near destitute. We've increased life expectancy without increasing common-sense smarts.

A major drawback, seems to me, is that the notion has been inculcated for many that SS and Medicare will be adequate to provide all that's needed for one's old age. Oops!

Me? Without having had to pay into FICA, my net worth and present retirement income would have been greater--even had I had to pay the $35K that Medicare laid out for my cancer surgery.

Art

Dave said...

Totally a ponzi scheme. The current recipients are paid by the current contributors, rather than being paid by their contributions having been treated as investments (that structural analysis was one of the points in the supreme court case, btw.)

the problem is that ponzi schemes always fail. They myst bring in more donors for each generation. I guess it probably takes six taxpayers today to pay the SS bennies for one recipient. Those six will need 36 to pay for tbem upon retirement. Those 36 need 1,296 ...

Sooner or latet, you run out of people. There is only so much landmass; when you have to start stacking folk three deep it's just done.

And honestly, age-based things just strike me af unfair and naive. Voting age at 18? What if you are mature at 14? You get disenfranchised. Immature at 30? You vote in ways that hurt us. SS retirement age is similarly bad. A guy that digs ditches for 40 years is going to be too worn out to work anymore. A guy that works as a hotel doorman can do another couple decades, easy. Age is just a number, not based on actual physical ability or need.

I would like to scrap all our welfare programs and replace it with this nice short document:

"minimum acceptable levels of nutrition, income, education and health care will be evaluated and adjusted for geography. Americans who fall below these levels will be assisted by public funds to achieve these levels as well as either mandatory publuc service of a value equal to the public assistance, successful progress in a job training program or a combination of the two. This will be paid for through the general fund, rather than special taxes."

there. One paragraph and I just outdid 535 members on congresd. And I am half asleep, i bet any of you could do an even better version.

I like this because it eliminates brackets and cutoff lines (such as the "I can't get a part-time job or I lose me welfare benefits" thing). Your income falls five dollars shy of the poverty line? Tge gov gives you five dollars and tells you ro keep working. Today, they giv gives you a lot more than five dollars and makes you quit your job. It also has no mention of age; retire when it's the right thing rather than when a bureaucrat tells you.

Plus, with focus on nutrition and education, the next generation is less likely to need this.

SpeakerTweaker said...

You bet your arse I'd opt out of Social Security and Medicare. I'd opt out of FICA, sales tax, and any other forcible extractions of my hard-earned dollar if I could.

But on that note, you think there's a snowball's chance in Hell that our gracious leaders will put Medicare/Medicaid to rest if they get Socialist Medicine passed? Technically those programs would become obsolete, but what are the odds that the fed.gov is gonna say, "Hey, you guys can stop sending us all that money now!"?



tweaker



word ver. - hontscru: sounds like what's about to happen to us...

Don said...

I have to chuckle when people say "You wouldn't really opt out!"

Riiiight. That's why it's a felony not to pay the piper, right? They did that because they were so certain people would do it voluntarily?

Dave said...

This quote is taken out of context, but it's pretty darn funny when you consider who said it.

"It is high treason to pay taxes. Refusal to pay taxes is the primary duty of the citizen!” - Karl Marx

Dave said...

ExGeeEye -

Well, medical treatment for acute illness or injury is not already universal, unless you mean "exists in the universe." By law, only emergency care has to be provided universally. Follow-up does not.

So, if you mean "universal" as in "you can get it anywhere if you have money," you are right. But if you mean "universal" as in "everyone who needs it can get it," then I guess I am the first person to dispute that point to you.

Kristopher said...

If all of us had the opportunity to opt out of SS, and put the money in low interest savings bonds, we would all retire as millionaires.

Not only is SS a Ponzi scheme, but it promises a ridiculously low return as well.

The Raving Prophet said...

Jamie, ministers can opt out of the system, but it requires filing a form testifying that you consider it a religious issue. I could not file that in good faith- I thought it was a logic issue, not a religious one, so I stayed in the system. For that, I get to pay 15.6% of my gross pay in self employment tax (ministers pay the full amount). Believe me, I wish I could have that money to invest as I wish- even given the stock market troubles, I'd still be way ahead of where the Social Security/Medicare system would have me ending up.

The problem is that some ministers opt out but yet don't save the money (as a profession, the pay is pretty meager so it's really tempting to use that money for ongoing expenses), so they end up with absolutely nothing when they retire.

I wish Bush would have had the courage to push for partial privatization of the system- you either invest it or you buy in to Social Security. But no, can't have the citizens thinking it was ever their money, nor can you lose dupes for your little Ponzi scheme.

Kristopher said...

Art:

If you are so worried about the average boobus ... then make the default investment federal bonds, with a 3% return, and only payable at age 60, barring disability.

The average boobus would still be able to retire a millionaire.

If SS is an attempt to "save" the average boobus, well, it would be kinder to just beat him up and rob him.

This is a rip-off and ponzi scheme ... it was based of Kaiser Willhem's similar scheme, one created when damned near no one made it alive to age 65.

Anonymous said...

I have this idea: take back the what? three trillion Obama has given away and give each LEGAL CITIZEN of this country his equal percent......
LawMom

Dave said...

"I have this idea: take back the what? three trillion Obama has given away and give each LEGAL CITIZEN of this country his equal percent......"

That's ten grand for each man woman and child in the country. 'Course, doing it that way is ACTUAL communism rather than all the things people are calling communism these days.

Anonymous said...

Oh, for heaven's sake. Lighten up.
What would you call the coming health plan? Democracy at work? Or bailing out and assuming some ownership of companies? Sounds descriminatory and suspiciously like selective takeover to me. I imagine there are some small business owners that would be glad of a bailout. Oops, but that's communism.
I doubt you ever saw Nazi socialism at work. I did; unfortunately the obscenity of the memory dies as the people who actually experienced it do.
Hitler kommen!
Only he would be horrified to discover in this incarnation he's black.
LawMom

Dave said...

"...Hitler kommen!"

Wow... just, wow.

Look, to quote Rush Limbaugh: "Words mean things."

If you don't know the definition of the term "communism," "socialism," "takeover" or pretty much all the other things you say, just don't have these discussions. Or use a dictionary.

Anonymous said...

He doesn't want you to quit paying, just cordially refuse the benefit you paid for.

ExGeeEye said...

Dave--

Well, medical treatment for acute illness or injury is not already universal...By law, only emergency care has to be provided universally. Follow-up does not.

(Emphases added)

To me, acute=emergency. Accept that, and we agree. Follow-up, while nice-to-have, is IMHO not a need-- never used it myself unless required by my employer-- and should not be anyone's financial responsibility but the patient's.

YMMV.

Library-Gryffon said...

I caught a bit of Dear Leader on tele yesterday speechifying someplace. Despite my best efforts to ignore him, I did catch one line - something about the American dream being for all.

I have to admit I always thought the American Dream was working my tuckus off so I can pay ever more taxes to give benefits to everyone except me. /sarc.

As far as SS and the retirement age of 65. I seem to recall that 65 was chosen in Germany well over a century ago as an age which few people would reach, and so they would have to pay out very few benefits. Today it would be more like 80.

NonyMouse said...

In response to anonymous at 8:30, I did mean for you to kindly refuse to glean the returns of your Social Security and Medicare investments.

Coincidentally, since the inception of Medicare and Social Security, the average life span has increased. Perhaps the unintended side effect of these programs has been to cause us to live longer, thereby increasing the amount of health care we consume and the amount of money needed to sustain ourselves after retirement. This has directly influenced the cost of health care for everyone, since living longer increases both lifetime health care costs and the likelihood of catastrophic illness with exorbitant costs.

Taken in this context, accepting Medicare and Social Security has directly increased the cost of health care for all of us, since through the use of the Ponzi scheme we are paying for the increased costs of the elderly living longer.

So quit taking your Social Security and Medicare benefits and die younger, if you would, please.

militant_marmot said...

Reminds me of the old film I had to watch in class. Dude gets his first paycheck, "Hey, who's FICA? And who said he could take my money?!?!"

Dave said...

ExGeeEye,

Ah, yeah, gotcha. If you are going with acute = emergency you are right and we agree (can't help it; as an ex-medic I was thinking about the main medical definition when I read your post).

The thing is, it fastly becomes another pragmatic vs. moral/ethical/etc. argument. Follow-up care certainly SHOULD be the responsibility of the person who caused the problem (the patient, or in the case of something like a car wreck injury, whoever caused the wreck, etc). Pay your own way; it's the right thing.

However, on a public money perspective, well take diabetics (and we sure have a lot of them, and statistically poor people are way more likely to become them). When a diabetic person goes to the ER for diabetic shock/coma treatment, the emergency life-saving last-minute if-we-don't-do-it-they-are-gonna-die care costs a few grand, and they can wind up doing that several times a month, while a month's supply of insulin costs (I think. I just googled it and took the first result so this may not be accurate) about $75.

$75 vs. many thousands of dollars for ER care over and over again.

I am not trying to justify the people who don't pay for their own insulin and thus go to the ER over and over again, but we do have to accept that they are not going anywhere. We can't wish them out of existence (well, we can, by simply not providing ER care and thus letting them die, but that's another discussion entirely).

Ethically, they need to pay their bills but won't. Practically, that makes us choose between paying for the cheap insulin or the expensive ER and ambulance fee. This is why people with strong libertarian leanings like myself get into arguments about public policy: we think of what's right as well as what's practical, even if we hate it. The libertarian in me says "pay yer damn bills yerself," and the practical guy in me says "if I am gonna get stuck paying ANYTHING, I'll take the $75 option over the $10,000 option. And be pissed about it."

Jon said...

The 800 pound gorilla is the fact that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will fail. No doubt about it. Which generation will be the ogre? I'm thinking it will be the second generation past the Baby Boomers. It's a crying shame that this irresponsibility has flourished for so long.

Rorschach said...

Yo Oxymoronic-moose! So who in hell do you think you are saying I must pay in, but I should, out of the goodness of my heart, not get my money back? If I gotta pay in they damned well better give me my money (plus interest!) back, otherwise it is theft, plain and simple. Are you a thief? Do you KNOW what we do to thieves in Texas? We shoot their worthless arse!

Library-Gryffon said...

Dave, the really annoying bit is that many of those folks, even if given all their diabetic supplies free would still not take care of themselves and would end up in the ER several times a month. It would be cheaper to pay for a full time minder for them.

I understand that O's speech to the children yesterday talked about personal responsibility. At what point do we tell folks that they need to be responsible for themselves and we won't pick up after them and save them from themselves any more?

NonyMouse said...

Rorschach - no I am not a thief and there is no reason to degrade this discussion to name calling. I understand you may be frustrated over this issue, but please, let's keep it civil.

The next logical step in the course of thought I have been espousing is that we do quit using the benefits of Social Security and Medicare while still paying in. These programs can't just be ended cold turkey, they must wind down. If more and more people didn't use these entitlements as time progressed, but unfortunately continued to pay in, eventually America could be weaned off them into private, free market insurance. As we pay less and less into these programs over the course of, say 10 years or so, we can remove people from the rolls of Social Security and Medicare and put funds into, as one reader suggested government T-bills at 3% instead of the roller coaster that is Wall Street.

So we reduce dependency on entitlements, invest in the free market and stabilize the dollar at the same time. It would require the sacrifice of the winding down period, but we as a nation managed to make such sacrifices during WW II. What's not to like?

Anonymous said...

What is not to like, Nony, is that then our elected congress critters wouldn't have any of our confiscated dollars to burn up paying for all the pork they have stolen from the SS "trust" fund to pay for.
Until the American people demand accountability, maybe by public humiliation such as stocks or a monkey cage in the middle of DC for mal, mis and nonfeasance in office, there will be no common sense in CON gress.

grampster

Library-Gryffon said...

For NonyMouse:
reducing dependency on entitlements would be a good thing. But where does having us continue paying in to SS while knowing we will never see a penny leave those of us half-way through our working lives?

I only have (supposedly) about 20 years to go to retirement. I've worked most of the last 20. So for 20 years I've not seen (although I paid income tax on) 7.65% of my income. If I have to keep paying for another 10 years while they phase out the program, that only leaves me 10 years to invest that 7% to try to get enough return to make up for the previous 30 years of theft by the gov't. Short of an economic miracle, I don't think I'll be able to turn 10 years of 7% into the equivalent of 40 years of 7%, even at the Fed's low rate of return, and even with that 7% probably being worth more than earlier years' 7%.

Rick R. said...

NonyMouse:

What's illogical about continuing to accept that which I am FORCED to participate in?

Did you know you cannot even refuse to accept your Social Security payments? even if you don't wnat them, they will ocntinue to be made regardless. There was a chap early on who attempted to refuse his, and was told rather abrouptly, "No can do."

And why can't we end SS and Medicare abruptly? Or at least, cut off eligibility to new members, and only cover those ALREADY retired, out of general funds? (Annswer: Because that would reveal teh dirty little secret of these proggrams almost instantly -- they they are not, and never have been, either "charity", "investments", or "funds".)

Better idea even -- let's allow ANy person who wishes to leave teh system, leave the system, mandate continuing coverage (with only COLA increases based on the consumer price index) for those who choose to remain in the system, and then pay people their benefits on EBT cards, like every other welfare recipient?

BTW -- the Hitler comparisons are dead accurate. The current government plans are textbook fascism. (Fascism, for those of you who slept through history classes, DOES NOT require jackboots, snazzy uniforms, militarism, or genocide. Like Capitalism and socialism, it's primarily an ECONOMIC framework. Equating all fascists to Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler overlooks the HUGE majority of self-proclaimed fascist leaders over the years. The primary difference between "socialism" and "fascism" is ownership versus control -- in socialism, teh government conrols AND owns major chunks -- but not all -- of the economy; in fascism, the government controls detailed operation while private individuals continue to own.)

Constitution First said...

Didn't G.W Bush propose to do this very thing, only to have "The Most Ethical Congress EVAH!" fight him at every turn, (including Medicare/ Medicaid reform?) then break their arms patting themselves on the back at the State of the Union Address?
That was the most disgraceful excuse of a Congress I witnessed up to that point; little was I to know they would easily trump that embarrassment several times over in the coming years.

Dave said...

Library-Gryffon,

True, a lot (the scientific term is "a HELL of a lot") of chronic patients won't take care of themselves. That's almost always why they become chronic in the first place. Go to any cardiologist in the country and look at the nearest outside table to their office and you will see a gaggle of patients chain-smoking while waiting for their appointment. And a huge pile of fast-food wrappers.

And I have no idea at all what to do about them. We could make them pay more, but they won't pay. We could threaten to cut off their care but then they would show up at the ER anyway. We could punish them for being such a pain in the ass, but that's even too nanny-state-like for mainstream democrats much less everyone else.

But chronic diseases are just one example. There are so many others. Slip and fall off a ladder, crack your spine, and the periodic swelling of the spinal cord can kill people slowly and amazingly painfully without follow up. So it's ER or pay for follow up all over again. Cut yourself, get bandaged at the ER, don't have cash to remove the stitches at follow-up and you have gangrene and another ER visit.

I could write a thousand cases where follow-up care is much cheaper than repeated ER visits, and lack of that care will result in one deadly situation after another. We can wish all we want, but medical science is not going to change to meet our financial desires.

Library-Gryffon said...

Dave:

Exactly. Intellectually it's easy to say there should be a cut off point, but knowing that we're talking about real people with real illnesses, it would take someone a lot crueler than I will ever be to say where it is. As a society we'll always err on the side of compassion.

Though according to the Ds, as a Conservative (and a registered R) that is what I would do in a heartbeat if ever given the chance, laughing all the way.

WV: trayerge - redneck/white-trash/ebonics triage?

NonyMouse said...

I thought you folks would find this link from the Wall Street Journal interesting:

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB122506801638770679-lMyQjAxMDI4MjI1NzAyNjc4Wj.html

It turns out you can indeed opt of of Social Security and Medicare, but if you opt out of Medicare, you cannot collect SS benefits. I feel compelled to dispel information at every turn. This is to the gentleman who stated you cannot opt out of accepting social Security - please check your facts.

Granted, this is an opinion piece, but it would seem the past two administrations - Clinton and Bush - elected to leave this administrative policy in place. Unbelievable. While I don't share political views with everyone on here, I hate wasteful government bureaucracy as much as the next person.

Anonymous said...

You miss the point. You can opt out of collecting Social Security and from Medicare benefits. You cannot opt out of PAYING them.