lengthening the retirement age for social security

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I often hear Republicans like governor Christie recommend that we solve the alleged social security funding crisis by advancing the retirement age to 69 or 70. The argument is that people are living longer than before and therefore can manage to work until a later age.

However, I wonder if this is a factually based, scientific argument. People are living longer than before but have improvements in science allowed them to be productive until a later age? Perhaps medical science can give people transplants to help them live longer or attach them to machines to give them a few extra years of life. Perhaps medical science can administer medication to individuals in old age homes to keep them alive a bit longer than in times past. But has science suddenly found a way to reverse aging? Is a 70 year old today biologically younger than a 65 year old was 20 years ago? Have the root causes of aging been addressed? Has oxidative stress been eliminated? Have telomeres been lengthened? Has science found a way to undo the cross-linking of proteins that results from the normal human aging process? Or do people after the age of 65 continue to age as they always have done and has science found ways to lengthen life without actually prolonging productive life?

If we eventually solve the aging process, we can eliminate the need for social security. But right now we still need it and we need it at the same age as before, Once again Republicans are ignoring science and refusing to base their arguments on the scientific facts.

there_aint_no_life_nowhere's picture
Feb. 18, 2011 11:55 am


My grandfather, who just turned 89, was farming up until last summer. He had a couple acres where he would grow produce and sell it at the Pike Place market.

He is still healthy, likely the result of staying active by farming.

Mr.Burns's picture
Dec. 1, 2010 12:48 pm

That's one heck of a grandfather you have there. I know my 93 yr old grandmother is still vibrant bodied and minded and should make it to her 100's easily.

Regardless, that doesn't have anything to do with a private company firing a 65 yr old desk jockey for a younger, more modernized desk jockey who will work for less money. Then what? Will that 65 yr old worker be able to collect social security? If not who's gonna hire a 65 yr old desk jockey? Could he/she even get a job in a fast food joint? Maybe your grandfather could hire him...

Also - just because some people's bodies and minds go longer than others doesn't mean we can all just suck it up after 65. The average lifespan of a male is 83 (i think), does that mean its unsurprising for a man to die at 65? No. Not at all; in fact it's right in line with an average age of 83.

That all being said, I agree to an extent with increasing the retirement age. People are living longer and therefore using more SS than we originally intended. We at least deserve to have an honest debate about the issue. Just like we need to have an honest debate about increasing the limit on the amount of income that is taxed for SS. Just like we need to encourage millionaires and billionaires to opt out of receiving SS payments. Just like we need to consider using our "defense" funding for actual defense and not pre-emptive wars and prolonged occupations of foreign nations under the pre-tense of "defense"; with a smaller budget on defense (one which actually focussed on defending our borders and homeland) we could divert much of those $$billions$$ to entitlements and infrastructure which in turn strengthens our defense....etc etc etc.

Barbazza's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

You don't have to be a ditch digger to get fired. Desk job: What happens if you get forgetful / not as mentally fast / arthritis and can't type? And get fired from these problems?

riverside's picture
May. 3, 2010 1:19 pm

Survival age for retirement should not begin at birth. How many 65 year olds are living longer and how much longer? The average extension for someone that makes it to 65 is 1 year. Those that have made it to 65 live a year longer. The 1983 fix extended the earliest claim age by about a year. Or 1 year and 10 months, or more depending on DOB. The actuarial adjustment has already been made. Upper income people live longer, some never pay fica either. There is a 25 year stretch that shows a need for a 1% increase in revenue to cover everything the same. After 25 years the claimants responsible for the blip are mostly expected to have died out. 25 years from 2042 when the claimant age will be about 68 meaning 93 years of age will be the expected age of death.[68+25] By then most of the boomers will be dead, too. The Reagan fix also set the fica susceptable income levl at 90%. 90% of all income was FICAed, currently only 83% is. The 7% untaxed is responsible for any projected shortfall.

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I'd like to see the retirement age drop to 55... earlier for those in hazardous, strenuous jobs... along of course with universal health care for all and no cost education...

norske's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

My understanding from what Paul Krugman said is that life epecancy is not significantly improving for people at the lower end (like people who aren't able to have health insurance. I wasn't able to find official numbers for this). That might color how we look at this.

Art's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Just saw on Lawrence Odonnell that those in the upper 50% have gained 6.7 years life expectancy, while those in the lower 50% have gained 1.3 years (didn't hear what time period).

Art's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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