Posted on 13 April 2011
By Mark Miller
President Obama didn’t lay out a specific Social Security reform plan in his speech on the deficit on Wednesday. But he did say he wants to strengthen the program for future generations without “putting at risk current retirees” or “slashing benefits for future generations.”
“Strengthening” could well include a higher retirement age, as recommended last December by the President’s own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
The logic here is that higher retirement ages are just and fair because we’re all living longer and will need to work longer as a result. This argument ignores the fact that longevity gains are concentrated among more affluent Americans. Finding gainful employment is extremely difficult for workers in their 50s and older.
But even if you do work longer, it is important to understand that higher retirement ages would result in a substantial across-the-board benefit cut — no matter when you retire.