What harried worker wouldn't admit to occasional thoughts of what life will be like when they reach the magic age of retirement? Ah, retirement! Waking up when you want to. Spending the day as you please. Your time is your own.
Even newspaper editorial writers who toil away at their desks harbor such fanciful thoughts now and then. So, it's with trepidation that we broach a subject that's bound to be controversial -- raising the age to collect full Social Security.
Currently, anyone born in 1937 or earlier may retire with full benefits at age 65. For those who are younger there is a gradual sliding scale that postpones the eligible age for full Social Security benefits. Some examples:
-- Workers born in 1942 must work until 65 years and 10 months.
-- Those born from 1943-1954 must work until 66.
-- Those born in 1959 must work until 66 years and 10 months.
-- Those born in 1960 and later must work until 67.
The problem is that people are living far longer than they used to. There will be a tremendous shift in the number of working Americans compared to a growing number of retired baby boomers in the coming years. Consider these statistics detailing the how the number of Americans age 65 and over has multiplied:
-- 1880 ...1.7 million.
-- 1920...4.9 million.
-- 1950...12.7 million.
-- 1970...20.9 million
-- 1990...31.9 million.
-- 2000...34.9 million.
Clearly, it's time Congress started phasing in a raising of the full retirement age. Many employees are choosing to work beyond age 65 already. Raising the qualification age for full Social Security benefits would be a relatively painless way to help preserve the system since any changes would be announced decades before those affected would be ready for retirement.
It's time to bite the bullet.
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