The Problems with Working Longer and Retiring Later

Some Social Security reformers want to increase the retirement age from age 66, perhaps even to age 70. I don’t think this would work for many, if not most American workers. This cost saving strategy is based on the assumption that increasing the retirement age would cause folks to work longer. I see two problems with this theory.

< First, jobs for older workers are increasingly harder to keep and find. There are plenty of ways to work around laws prohibiting age discrimination. Second, many people work in jobs that are physically demanding. They just wear out and are unable to do these jobs well into their 60’s. Even factory workers can break down from the demands of the job. Eyesight goes, joints wear out, stamina declines, etc. You know what I’m talking about.

The strongest evidence of both of these problems comes from the Social Security Administration itself:

  • In 2009, 72 percent of men who filed for Social Security benefits filed before their full retirement age. ┬áThis is an increase from 58 percent who filed early in 2008.
  • In 2009, 75 percent of women filed early compared with 64 percent in 2008.

These statistics strongly suggest that jobs for older workers are just not there. Where will these jobs come from if folks have to work until age 70? Do they expect older Americans to change careers and start working at fast food counters?

Any politician who advocates for an increase in the retirement age needs to address the “where will the jobs come from” problem as well.

You can read more about the issue here.

What do you think about this plan for saving Social Security?


  1. says

    My career has been focused on managing sales people so the physical wear and tear is not necessarily there although the mental sure is! That said, with most sales types are in the 25-35 age group, a 65 year old manager is not going to cut it. The fast paced selling environment requires immediate responsiveness and creative thinking that is applicable to the target audience as well. The likelihood of even a 50+ sales manager fitting the bill for high tech is slim. As you say, there are ways around age discrimination laws.

  2. Dangerman says

    “increase the retirement age from age 66″

    Did you mean to say 67? Because the full retirement age for anyone born after 1960 is already 67.

  3. Anita says

    I agree that extending the retirement age is not a wise course. Too bad Congress has been raiding Social Security for years!

  4. says

    My suggestion for fixing SS is to legalize the illegal workers. Then work out a payment plan for the bonds that the federal government issued SS. Get back the money that we paid in.

    I may get stoned for this- but I think teachers should leave the classroom between 20-25 years. In general, they are burned out and need a change. It is difficult to get up every morning and be enthusiastic enough to teach- especially with the testing stress of today.

    This is new for education. Before this era, women went into education until they married (or had children) and then left. The older school teacher was rare (mostly because you could not live on a school teacher’s salary). Men stayed in longer because they got paid more for coaching. They get their regular salary and 1/3 more for coaching. Most men used to coach 3 sports- so they made double what women made. didn’t make them better teachers though.

    The older generation needs to leave space for new people to come in as well. I could have stayed in the classroom- but the kid that got my position would have changed professions because I kept her out.

    Raising the age limit to retire actually hurts the younger generation.

    How many Walmart greeters can there be in a store?

  5. Another Reader says

    People that collect early generally do so because of health issues or because their job disappears. All this idea will do is to reduce the benefit for those who need to take the annuity early. If the early retirement age is also raised, the effect will be to impoverish folks that must rely on other assets between the time they leave work and the time they qualify for Social Security. Think about those Congressional IOU’s while you are warming up that Alpo and rice for dinner.

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