Jan 9, 2016

There's No Fountain Of Youth

     The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has posted a 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.


Anonymous said...

"The fact that people live longer does not mean that they don't age."

That may be the most overlooked obvious fact I've ever come across. Seriously, it should be the first response to anyone spouting off about retirement ages. It's so right in front of us we just overlook it.

Anonymous said...

Omit infant and juvenile mortality of early 20th century and average life expectancy has grown very little since Social Security's inception. Every time I hear the issue of raising FRA based on data tied to life expectancy at birth I cringe.

Anonymous said...

As it stands now, my FRA is 67. I fully expect that it will move to 70 as well as my Medicare eligibility. That is if they let the program survive that long. I see no future in it and my retirement planning at this stage does not include any money from SSA. I firmly believe I will have been ripped off my entire working life by the program.

Nothing in the last 15 years tells me there will not be an increase in FRA or Medicare eligibility age, all indicators point to raising both ages to reduce the amount of spending on both. There is no future for the next generation of recipients.

Anonymous said...

Expecting people to work longer because they live longer overlooks the very real prejudice of employers against older workers. I don't see any recognition of this fact in any analysis of raising the full retirement age. I'd like to hear this elephant in the room roar.