piece promoting the idea that Social Security's full retirement age should be variable based upon the worker's socio-economic status since life expectancy depends to some extent upon socio-economic status.
To my mind this piece is wrong, wrong, wrong. There's no realistic way of basing policy on a concept as nebulous as socio-economic status. How do you write that into a statute? The bigger problem is that the authors accept at face value that full retirement age should be related to life expectancy? Why? The right wing likes that notion since it might justify higher full retirement age but is there any non-political justification? All I've ever heard basically goes "Well people live longer so they should work longer." That's simplistic. There's no rational reason why full retirement age should be x number of years less than life expectancy.
Why should we have any full retirement age anyway? The reason is that there are natural degenerative changes in people's bodies and minds as they age. These changes occur at somewhat differing rates but they happen to everyone as they age. Full retirement age acknowledges that these changes decrease the ability to work even in those who seem healthy -- for their age. Instead of trying to do determinations of disability for people whose main problem isn't so much a specific disease as the general effects of aging, we have a full retirement age. What's wrong with this concept?
The fact that people live longer does not mean that they don't age. People have been looking for a fountain of youth for centuries. No one has found it yet. The effects of aging cannot be delayed or reversed by medical treatment.