America's first "baby boomer" filed for Social Security benefits Monday, becoming among the first of nearly 80 million Americans born after World War II who are expected to apply for such benefits over the next two decades.
Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, 61, was born one second after midnight on Jan. 1, 1946. She becomes eligible for Social Security in two and a half months. On Monday, she completed filing electronically for the benefits before a horde of reporters and photographers at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
"It was great, it was great," she said afterward. "It is so user friendly, and I hope that many of my fellow boomers will take the easy way out, because applying on-line just made it much easier to go through the whole process."
Bracing for a 'silver tsunami'
Casey-Kirschling, a retired seventh grade teacher who lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore, will get her first check (for an undisclosed amount) in early February.
"I'm thrilled to think that after all these years that I'm getting paid back the money that I put in," she said.
Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said there's plenty of money in the system...for now.
"There's no reason to have any immediate panic," he said. "Retirement benefits right now, the funds are solvent through 2041."
And beyond then?
"I think I and most people who are really familiar with the situation are confident that there'll be some pain along the way, but we'll get there, and Social Security will be there for future generations," said Astrue.
In what's being called America's "silver tsunami," 10,000 Americans a day will become eligible for Social Security benefits over the next 20 years.