Pushing retirement back to age 70?

socialsecuritycheck-ap_2Jeb Bush has joined Chris Christie and Marco Rubio in advocating an increase in the Social Security and Medicare retirement ages in order to “save” both programs.

“We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70,” Bush said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

I’m not sure if Bush is aware of the fact — his comments suggest that he is not — but full retirement has already been extended beyond age 65. Thanks to the last effort to “save Social Security” back in 1983, the full retirement age is now 66, and it is scheduled to rise gradually to 67 by 2022. And while early retirement is still available at age 62,  the financial penalty for taking that option has increased significantly.

Bush made the statement about Social Security during an interview with Bob Schieffer, the 78-year-old CBS newsman who was taping his last episode of “Face the Nation” before his own retirement. Schieffer’s longevity would seem to make him a good example of extended, healthier American lifespans, a trend often cited by those who support pushing back the retirement age. But I would argue that such an example is deeply misleading.

With all due respect to Schieffer, sitting in an air-conditioned office staring into a TV camera at age 68 or even 78 is significantly easier on the body than working as a carpenter, retail clerk, truck driver or other blue-collar profession at an advanced age. For a lot of Americans, working past age 65 would be a considerable physical and emotional hardship.

In addition, lower-income Americans already live significantly shorter lives than their wealthier fellow citizens.

At age 55, an American male in the top 10 percent of the income scale will on average live almost 11 years longer than an American male of the same age at the bottom 10 percent of the income scale, and that lifespan differential is growing. The increase in average lifespan that is often cited to justify later retirement is almost exclusively a phenomenon among those at the upper end of the payscale.

The story among American women is even worse. Among women in the bottom 40 percent of the income scale, average lifespans are actually falling, rather than increasing. A woman at the bottom end of the income scale who turned 55 in 1995 can expect to live two years LESS than her mother did at the same age, for reasons that we can only guess.

These are the people who would be most affected by the changes sought by Bush and his fellow Republicans. These are people don’t have 401ks, hefty savings or pensions to fall back upon to finance an early retirement without Social Security; if they’re lucky, they have Social Security and a house with a paid-off mortgage. (Fewer than 45 percent of American workers even have a 401k account, and most who do are woefully underfunded.)

To Bush and his colleagues, however, asking such folk to “save” Social Security by working another two or three years, to age 70 — a tax on life itself, so to speak — is clearly preferable than some of the alternatives, most of which involve slight tax increases on income. You could, for example, increase or even eliminate the cap on income subject to Social Security payroll taxes, which now disappear after the first $118,000 in earned income. Earlier this year, Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a variation on that idea by keeping that cap, but reinstating the payroll tax to income above $250,000. Other proposals include gradually raising the 6.2 percent payroll tax to 7.2 percent or slightly adjusting the cost of living formula, which President Obama has been open to discussing.

Bush and Christie have also suggested means-testing Social Security, thus reducing benefits for wealthier Americans and saving a considerable sum of money. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that idea, depending on its details, but defenders of Social Security worry that means-testing would make the program look more like a welfare program than a social insurance program, and thus undercut its long-term political support.

I wish I could say with certainty that such a change wouldn’t matter, but given the state of modern politics, I do see their point.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

874 comments
bu2
bu2

Average life expectancy was 59.7 years in 1930.  Now its 78.7.  If the retirement age changed to match that, it would be 84 now.  70 is very reasonable.  You can still retire early.  You just get less money.


Changing that, changing the inflation factor to match the cost of living and possibly raising the cap can solve the problems easily if we act soon.


We should save our tax increases for dealing with medicare which is in big trouble.

Antagonist
Antagonist

This may look good on paper, but you already have those powers-that-be that find someway to release experienced workers because they cost the companies too much money after too many years. What's to be done about this oxymoron? And don't say lawsuit because that can be managed to not be an issue.

DannyandGrace
DannyandGrace

In all the conversation about saving social security and medicare one thing that is rarely mentioned is raising the cap.  Right now I think the cap is $115K.  Why not raise it so that those who earn more and have more resources (and who will get the largest checks when they do retire) are paying more into the system along the way.  That would bring significant additional funds into the system and not punish those who are most dependent upon it as further raising the required age would.  I am concerned about the means testing idea because it is very important that Social Security and Medicare NOT be seen as welfare type programs but as a national retirement and health insurance program that benefits ALL Americans.  

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Teabaggers, huh? Yeah, we taxpayers propping up your sorry vote-buying giveaways have a lot of respect for you, too.

At 60-plus how do you compete with masses of workers decades younger and with far better health and energy? Oh, and all that "enlightened" education? You out-work and out-produce them, often by leaps and bounds. You take the job they don't want because they'd have to work 60-80 hours a week to pull down that middle-income flat salary with no overtime for the "privilege" of investing in their own retirement and paying thousands annually for health care coverage and over 50% of their income in taxes (add it up). You work while they Yammer and tweet.

When you cash your benefit check or claim that fat subsidy be sure to pause and thank us old teabaggers who make it possible.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Here is a bag of tricks that wRighters use to control the choices.


1. Never suggest profits as a possibility to make up for higher wages (only consider cutting jobs and raising consumer prices)


2. Never suggest that all businesses help pay for state transportation funding (only target the gas buyers)


3. Never suggest higher progressive income taxes (only push for increased sales taxes)


4. Never use anything other than than poverty level income benchmarks for the "Fair Tax" (hey I'm all for the fair tax if you set the prebate at $100K - Oh you were for the fair tax before you were against it because you didn't mean for it to be that fair?


5.Always laugh at the poor misguided voters that convince themselves out of a better life - "let them eat slogans"

The_Real_KJ
The_Real_KJ

"more like a welfare program than a social insurance program"


Aren't these one and the same?  People just don't like to use the term "welfare".  SS was never designed to be guaranteed retirement income, and that's a big reason why we're in this mess.


It's simple math; people are living too long to support everyone taking payments from 60something until they die.  At least boomers benefited from an insane 20-year bull market the likes of which we'll probably never see again; the rest of us won't even have that.

JKToole
JKToole

@The_Real_KJ "SS was never designed to be guaranteed retirement income"

Um, that is EXACTLY what the original Social Security Act (1935) was. A measure to implement "social insurance" during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when poverty rates among senior citizens exceeded 50 percent. The Act was an attempt to limit unforeseen and unprepared for dangers in the modern life: including old age, disability, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widow(er)s with and without children.

lvg
lvg

Increasing the cap on earnings for contributions by  the 1% and minimum contributions for all is not even a possibility with Grover and Heritage folks running the GOP.

jj doe
jj doe

70? OK, try keeping your job that long. Try finding a new job after 50. These teabaggers care little for reality. They just want to one-up each other with the crazy comments. And voters are dumb enough to vote for them. INSANE!
Want to make people work until 70? Then guarantee comparable employment and wages up to that age. Like Congress gets, after their first day on the 'job'!

lvg
lvg

@jj doe teabaggers will be first to scream the loudest  if you cut off their social security, Medicare and disability payments.T

juliainatlanta
juliainatlanta

These clowns are about as disconnected from the reality of the average American as it is possible to be and still walk upright.  i dare any one of them to try and live as most of us do, even for a month.  

Point
Point

Just got home from work and haven't read all 858 comments to know how items have been previously discussed.  Once again, these guys need to step outside the bubble and see what's really happening.  Workers age 50 and up are losing their jobs in large numbers in at will states like Georgia.  Applicants age 50 and up are not being hired. How can you work until 70?  I've hears the politicians comment on the large increase in SSI and they can't figure it out.  Well, if you lose your job right before you reach retirement age and no one will hire you, you have to have money coming in from somewhere or live on the streets.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Point 

And notice that the posters are commenting during the work-day, all on lazy political topics with the usual tired  comments about Republicans/Obama/Congress. So they must be already retired...probably drawing SS right now. They don't have to worry!  They got theirs!

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

From the lackluster comments on-topic, I gather that no-one here has worked a long-time physical labor job or has tried to get work from scratch as an older citizen. You can't imagine this ever happening to you, and don't have any acquaintances who are physical laborers and still making it to work at the age of 60. 


Means-testing Social Security? Yes, that seems fair to me. Seems free-loading to take SS if you don't need it.  But raising the full retirement age to 70? Heartless, just heartless.



JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@DownInAlbany @Numbers_R_Us Come on ...don't you know..libs never criticize other libs.  Ever..They take credit for any democrat or republican success and assign blame for all things bad to republicans and republicans alone.  And the answer to everything is mo money.  Didn't you get the memo in college?

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

So this is how the story goes, the fascists "took the Republican plan" and closed the debate. Declared themselves victorious, "a big effin deal." Voted against the will of the majority. Lied in our faces selling it in speeches all across the country. The Republican plan. Just think about the lunacy.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

Disrespecting Seniors sets a dangerous precedent for when you will be

a senior unless you don't make it.

Renteroo
Renteroo

"30% rate increases for all!"


Thanks, Heritage Foundation!!!

alexander2
alexander2

Haven't read any posts (busy day), Means testing with raising the age is rational and APPROPRIATE, just because some people don't save with a roth or 401K when they could is not an excuse. Perhaps these older people could change jobs to somehting less physically taxing , many do already.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

@Cupofjoe @alexander2 From the quality of service at some of these places I'm not sure death is really a factor in dismissal from government offices.  Just sayin'....

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@alexander2 Maybe we can take everything seniors pay into Social Security..AND everything they may have saved in a 401k or other investment...and just give it away to those who really need it.  I mean...seniors had their shot right...

LeninTime
LeninTime

@alexander2 

Perhaps these older people could change jobs to somehting less physically taxing , many do already

**
Because those are of course going to be growing on trees when you really need them.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

You go Bruce Jenner!!!


And take the Kardashians with you!!!


Seriously, I don't care to hear about any of them ever again.  Just not that important and don't care what they do as long as I don't have to hear about it as if it's news.  


Oh, and a bonus if you'll take the Bush's and the Clinton's with you.  ALL of them!!

gotalife
gotalife

I thank our cons for fighting against Obamacare to get single payer.


Thank you cons.


I agree so raise those rates against health insurance ceo's.


You need a bigger yacht.



barkingfrog
barkingfrog

The name Sepp Blatter invites so much mockery but I just can't bring myself 

to do it.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@barkingfrog "The name Sepp Blatter"


FWIW, "Blatter" in German (I believe Mr. Blatter is Swiss), with the umlaut over the "a" means 'leaves' or 'pages,' as in leaves of a tree or pages of a book.  The word is pluralized, so it means 'leaves' or 'pages' rather than 'leaf' or 'page.'  


Also, I seem to recall that in some Nordic languages, "blatter" can mean 'letter;' I believe there's a newspaper that's the Someplace-Or-Other Morgensblatter (Morning Letter).


Cupofjoe
Cupofjoe

Consenting adults.  


ah  defending the indefensible to its worthless end-  seems like a life led of frustration-