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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Retirement at 70

Retirement at 70

Robert Samuelson writes a great column on Social Security:

Our Social Security problem is just one aspect of a larger retirement revolution -- an upheaval in medicine, life expectancy, work and lifestyles. Since Social Security's creation in 1935, life spans have increased dramatically. Someone who now reaches 65 can expect to live almost 20 more years. Meanwhile, government has constantly made Social Security and Medicare more generous. The result is "middle-aged retirement," as Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute calls it. If people retired for the same number of years now as in Social Security's early years, he says, they'd work until 74. In fact, half of Social Security recipients start getting benefits at age 62.

We can no longer afford this system: It will overburden future generations and could weaken the economy. Congress ought to design a broad makeover of retirement. Americans should work longer. We're healthier (thanks to medical advances and the decline of physical labor) and -- as the number of new workers shrinks -- society will need older workers. Social Security and Medicare were intended to protect the neediest among the elderly; they should not subsidize ever-longer retirements.
[emphasis added]

Read the full column.