Don't raise the Social Security retirement age cont'd
A reader writes in with some good further thoughts on Social Security. Pay particular attention to No. 3:
(1) You indicate that some people work on their feet and strain their backs. True, but it's also true that the Dilbert comic strip is not a work of fiction. Sitting in a cubicle in front of a computer screen will eventually drain your body, mind, and spirit. Most of us retire because we have to. A fortunate few retire when they want to. Very very few retire just because their age matches some magic number on some government agency's website.
I retired because life in Dilbertville had become unbearable. If I had stayed longer, I believe it could well have been fatal.
(2) If you're really paying attention, you'd know that the actual full Social Security retirement age has always been 70.
People born when I was (1944) are told that their full retirement age is 66, and that they can begin collecting benefits up to 48 months earlier at a reduced rate. What seems to be much less well-known is that you can begin collecting benefits up to 48 months later at an increased rate.
As a person with a degree in mathematics and who is perfectly capable of using numbers to deceive, I regard that as an exercise in deception. It would be much more straightforward and honest to simply state that the full retirement age is 70 and that you can begin collecting benefits up to 96 months earlier at a reduced rate, and then publish a single reduced rate table. When you understand that the retirement age is actually 70, then it's obvious that the political talk about raising the retirement age has got absolutely nothing to do with actual retirement ages and is really just code for adjusting the benefits tables so that most people will retire with less benefit.
(3) If the politicians actually mean that people should work longer, they themselves have got a lot of work to do in order to make that realistic. Age discrimination laws and enforcement will have to be much tougher, and employers will have to be required to provide reasonable accommodations for older workers such as flexible work hours and increased sick leave benefits.
I'd also recommend this post from Mark Thoma.
September 7, 2010; 1:20 PM ET
Categories: Social Security
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