Both Parties Mull Raising Retirement Age

In a rare departure from this year’s intense political posturing over the soaring budget deficit, House leaders of both parties recently signaled that they are prepared to tackle a leading long-term liability — Social Security — by raising the retirement age.


I’m not persuaded that raising the retirement age is the proper way to go. Some workers whose job histories and skills require a great deal of physical activity, are pretty chewed up by age 65. On the other hand, some who are mental workers are not at all disabled by age 65. Simply raising the retirement age is a pretty blunt instrument in my opinion.

I have, for many years, considered, rather, that “means testing” both social security and Medicare are probably necessary and appropriate. There is no viable reason, for example, to give social security benefits to Donald Trump. Nor is there any reason to bankrupt the system for those who need it, in order to allow some pensioners to “double dip”. To me, there should be a gradual reduction in benefits based on other income sources.

That isn’t likely, though, because it would recognize that it really isn’t a “savings” system, and never was; that there is no “trust fund”. Truth is, both are welfare programs and should be treated as such.

Seems like a prudent move. The age of 65 was established by Bismark shortly after unification of Germany, where, even adjusted for infant mortality, life expectancy was well short of 65.

All the more reason to find something which gives your life meaning besides your work.

The minimum age to receive social security benefits should be at least 70 for the able bodied. The program as it stands now encourages too much laziness. Back in the 1880’s 75% of men over 65 were in the labor force. Today the labor force participation rate of those over 65 is about 17%. This statistic tells us that many people would rather be lazy and collect the government dole that take care of themselves.

Does that statistic about the 1880s include all men or just industrial workers or just what? In the 1880s the great majority of men would have been farmers. Likely the percentage of farmers still working would be no different today. Farmers generally are remarkably fit well into advanced age, definitely past age 65.

I would be willing to predict that if the retirement age is raised to 70, both the social security disability and workers’ comp numbers will explode.

Social security retirement should be means tested. It’s not a pension fund, and the sooner we accept that it’s a welfare program, the better off the country will be.

Part of the problem is that government programs come with such perverse incentives. I work with a guy who is in his early 70s, makes $100,000 per year in salary and is proud to announce that he collects social security as well. Something is wrong with such a system and it is not sustainable. Someone is going have to get harmed if the program is going to continue. Of course if we means test it people may try and find a way to all of a sudden get poor so they can qualify for benefits.

If the the government is going to raise the retirement age, then do it right now. If its good enough for them to raise my retirement age, then its good enough for someone who is currently 60-64 to have their retirement age raised as well. Why should my generation feel the pain of the decisions made by the previous generations? Why should older generations not feel the pain of their decisions and poor governance of this program?

Well, it’s about time!
Statistically, anyone who reaches 65 can expect to live another 15 years on average.
When SocSec started the avg. life expectancy was 65!

For folks in my cohort, say born 1955 or later retirement age should be 68, maybe 70.

Even better, make Social Security a fixed amount for everyone, regardless of earnings that way we could ditch a lot of the bureaucracy.

hope they hold off for 4 more years so I can get my medicare before I die.

do you feel you have control over decisions made about admin of SS now? then why do you assume either my generation or my parents had control in our time? Have you by any chance ever looked at statistics for the number of SS recipients who are taxed on all or part of their receipts [partial return on unvoted taxes paid throughout their working life] because they still work out of necessity? Grow up.

For the most part, my generation has not had a lot of input into the control of SS. We certainly didn’t start it, nor steal from it to pay for pork barrel projects. If you look at those in power, what is their average age?

So all I’m saying is why should those who started it, and had primary control of it, not feel any of the pain of their decisions? It seems kind of easy politically to avoid doing anything to those near retirement, while screwing over my generation and my children’s generation.

As for the “grow up” comment, how about sticking to the points and debating like a grown up?

I think we have to raise the retirement age, although I agree with those that commented that this hits a lot harder on people with physically demanding jobs. It may be that we have to raise the age, with some kind of early retirement provision for some, but I don’t see how the current age can be maintained. I also think that the cap on SS taxes needs to be raised. The cap for 2010 is $106,800 - you pay no SS tax on wages over 106,800. That is the same as 2009. 2010 is the first year that the cap has not been increased since 1972. A combination of raising the cap somewhat and increasing the retirement age could stabilize social security for a long time.

Or better yet, make it a tax on total compensation, o/wise you’d get people being paid $105K plus stock options, bonuses, company cars, &c.

I agree, that would also help. I don’t know why it makes sense to tax people differently based on how their employer structures their compensation

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme to enable politicians to get elected. I wish I had a nickel for every dollar my employer and I have put into this system for the last 40 years. Its a good thing I have saved for my own retirement, and too bad the government has to steal money from me for those who didn’t.

You do realize, do you not, that raising the cap on SS taxes lowers the benefits to all but the highest paid? Maybe that’s acceptable for some reason, but it should be recognized that that is one result of raising the cap. That’s because the benefits relative to the maximum are directly related to the percentage of the maximum tax one paid in.

We already have early retirement provisions for some. They’re called Social Security Disability and Permanent Total Disability under workers’ compensation laws. But one has to question whether those are really good alternatives for an aging population.

It seems to me that it would not be terribly difficult leave the retirement age at 65, 66 and 67 (currently the case) yet to “means test” SS benefits in order to bring the outlay down. No reason to pay SS to someone making, say, $70,000/year or more from wages or investments.

Something else that might help a great deal. Since workers’ compensation benefits for permanent disability supposedly compensate for reduction in future earnings, why not simply require that those benefits be paid into the social security system, giving the worker credit for those sums paid in. Might reduce malingering a bit as well if one can’t put his award or settlement up his nose or buy a new car with it. One could also do that with personal injury claims based in whole or in part on (largely speculative) loss of future earnings.

Of course, the trial lawyers (and therefore the Democrat party) would fight those measures like a wolverine on a three-day-old deer carcass.

That creates a double effect: Not having to pay out social security benefits for a couple more years, AND collecting more social security taxes while you work longer. Why does the government need both? Why couldn’t it be a bit less greedy, and provide a positive incentive for working longer and staying off of the SS dole, like say, exempting all federal income taxes on workers over age 65?

Wait. I know why.

Makes no difference to me whatsoever. I’ll have 2 children in college this fall, one at an expensive private (Catholic) university. I’ll be working until I’m 30,000 years old to pay it all off. :wink:


Actually, I’ve read that when SocSec was started, the average life expectancy was 66. Which means a draw of only 1 year, obviously. I see no problem with moving it to 70, really.
Pretty sure I’ll still be working, God willing.

I don’t think this is true, since the benefits are based on a formula related to one’s average indexed monthly earnings(AIME). Raising the cap on the taxable wage base will increase the monthly benefit of the high earner under the current formula, but it will not lower the benefit to the lower earning worker. In addition, for every dollar AIME goes up for the high earner, the SS benefit only goes up by 15 cents, so ignoring the behavioral consequences high income earners would get taken to the cleaners under such a proposal. But, once again, ignoring behavioral consequences poor and middle income workers would not be affected one way or another in regards to their benefits.

I have had to put an enormous amount of money into SS. It was supposed to pay for my retirement at age 65, now 67. If I have planned my life around that, and decide to continue to work…who the heck are YOU to tell me it makes no sense to give me my money back. (Not that I currently expect to see much of it.)

I’d have strongly preferred to be able to put my and my employers 15% per year into the stock market starting in 1972. Heck I could probably retire the note on the local church with that money. But no…its all gone!!! What did the government do with my money???

I have had about all the redistribution this country can stand. Aside from the genuinely disadvantaged…our system now takes care of the irresponsible. That is shortsighted and rewards sloth.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit