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The Impact of Raising Social Security’s Retirement Age

Posted October 7th, 2010 in Updates and tagged , , , , by Hands Off Our Medicare

Dean Baker on Democracy NOW!.

AMY GOODMAN: Dean Baker, what about lifting the retirement age to seventy? What would be the effect?

DEAN BAKER: Well, this is a cut in benefits. And, of course, this disproportionately hits those who are at the bottom, who have shorter life expectancies, and also who don’t have the ability to make this up by working longer because they don’t have the health or they have harder jobs. It really is infuriating. You go around Washington, all the people talk about this. They’re all—you know, they have jobs like I do. I sit at a desk. I’m hoping I can work ’til seventy, maybe much longer. I like my job. I’m, you know, in good health. But you go around, you’ve got people working in a factory, people working in restaurants, you know, waiter, wait people. You look around at the jobs people have throughout society, the vast majority of those are not jobs where people could really look forward to working ’til age seventy. So this is really kind of a cruel joke on people. And again, one other point I just think we can’t emphasize enough, people have paid for these benefits. So, we’re talking about taking away benefits people have paid for. Let’s use the word “tax.” Let’s call it a tax. I know that sends the right wing nuts. Let’s say they want to tax Social Security benefits, because that’s, in effect, what they want to do.

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, on raising the retirement age.

“At a time when retirement is less secure for working Americans than it has been in many generations, only Social Security remains a defined and stable retirement benefit,” said Richard L. Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Raising the eligibility age for a full Social Security benefit would be disastrous for millions of Americans. It is a benefit cut, plain and simple. It is a cut that is unnecessary and one that Americans can ill-afford. I know that America can do better than this. And that’s why the AFL-CIO, as part of a broad campaign, is mobilizing to protect Social Security.”

Alex Lawson of Social Security Works on impact of raising retirement age.

Alex Lawson of Social Security Works has calculated that a raise in the age of social security eligibility for full benefits will result in benefit cuts of 28.6% for those in the age range of 65 to 70.

Raising of age and African American men.

Life expectancy for African American men is 69.7 according to government figures. A raise in the age of full benefits for social security means not only a cut in benefits but also that the majority of African American men will never collect on what they have paid into for their entire working lives. This disparate effect alone is more than sufficient to merit opposition to any raise in the age.

Mark Weisbrot on disproportionate harm.

Raising the retirement age, over time, from 67 to 70 will disproportionately harm African-American male retirees, whose life expectancy is considerably shorter than that of their white male counterparts. Low-income and blue-collar workers would also bear a disproportionate share of the burden.

Under current law, a 40 year-old Black male worker can expect about 3.6 years of Social Security benefits, as opposed to 9.1 years for a white male worker. This discrepancy was widened by the most recent increase in the retirement age, from 65 to 67. The proposed further increases in the retirement age would effectively prevent progress toward a decent retirement span, both in absolute terms or relative to whites, for African-American males over nearly an entire century.

The typical African-American man born in 1973 would lose 19.2% of his expected retirement years solely as a result of increasing the retirement age to 68. A white male of the same age would lose 9.3% of his retirement.

Differences in life expectancy by income and occupation are similar to those across racial lines. Low-income and blue-collar workers would therefore suffer a similarly disproportionate impact from this proposal.

Dean Baker on retirement age and physically demanding jobs.

Many policymakers are able to still work into their late 70s. This leads many deficit hawk types to think all workers should be expected to work until age 70 or even older.

However, this is not likely to be as easy for most workers as it is for them. Forty five percent of workers over age 58 work at jobs that are physically demanding or have difficult work conditions.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Leo Wong says:

    For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Matthew 13:12

  2. So, just to be clear, regardless of the retirement age, you are identifying the Social Security program as a form of institutional slavery where white folks live off the labor of black folks.

    The political party that promotes social justice is actually stealing from the poorest and blackest to give to the richest and whitest.

    Very interesting. Do you still have your white hood and sheet?

  3. […] friend of mine shared a link to the blog “Hands off our Medicare.” In today’s post Dean Baker answered a question about the impact on benefits of raising the age at which a person […]

  4. […] it’s time for you to fight back against the fear-mongering propaganda campaign that’s been trying to whip up a phony crisis […]

  5. reality check says:

    As SS is our single largest part of the budget and is expect to INCREASE as the baby boomers retire it is an area that must be addressed. Increasing the retirment age 2-5 years is a logical step that must take place for the solvency of the ss program and our country as a whole

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