The Raising of the Retirement Age


Retirement is a time to reduce your work load to a minimum and live off the savings you've accumulated. Retirees enjoy time with family, travel and leisure pursuits. But the age at which retirees can expect to receive benefits, either from the Social Security Administration or from their employers, can change over the course of a worker's career, delaying those retirement plans.


Many different elements factor into proposals to raise retirement age. One key factor is budget. Employers spend a large amount of money on retiree benefits such as pension plans and health insurance. In the case of the government, health care and Social Security benefits for retirees need room in the federal budget. Another element surrounding changes in retirement age is life expectancy. As medical science allows people to live longer, healthier lives, they continue to draw retirement benefits, often for much longer than program administrators had anticipated. Increased health later in life also allows workers to perform their jobs beyond traditional retirement ages.


Some federal government agencies and employers are among the loudest voices advocating raising the retirement age. In particular those charged with balancing budgets that include large cash outflows to retirees are the most likely to suggest raising the retirement age. But not all government agencies support the idea; according to ABC News, the Government Accountability Office is against raising the retirement age because of the potential effect on retirees who rely on Social Security benefits. Senior citizen advocacy groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons are also outspoken against raising the retirement age.


Raising the retirement age is a potential source of several benefits. Businesses and government agencies that supply benefits can better balance their budgets and prepare for the next generation of retirees when the demands on their cash reserves are lower. Keeping workers in the workforce longer also contributes to federal Social Security funds through payroll taxes that fund the program. Finally, by raising the retirement age, workers are less likely to leave their jobs and deplete their retirement savings following decades of idleness, which places even greater strain on government services for low-income retirees.


Raising the retirement age appears unfair to some workers and retirees who see a lengthy retirement as the goal of a long career. In terms of pension plans, workers may feel that they deserve a reward for loyalty to the company, which can make raising the retirement age seem like a sign of disrespect. Extending the retirement age also places certain workers at a disadvantage, since those whose jobs require mental or physical stamina may be less able to perform their regular duties comfortably later in life.

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