Ball and chain: the human cost of raising the retirement age

A great article from Remapping Debate tells the story of people imagining their lives (or those of their children) with a significantly delayed retirement age:

Barrett paused a moment. She is 30 years old, and had never thought about the possibility of having to work another 40 years to retirement. She has not yet built her family, or even met the husband whom she pictures at her side when she retires. “To me,” Barrett said, “it’s far away.”

Many of the prescriptions to “fix” Social Security — like the plan supported by several members of the Deficit Reduction Commission chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles — recommend reducing payments to some workers and gradually delaying the age at which senior workers can collect benefits.

The people who would absorb [the] final impact [of doing so] are in kindergarten now, and no one is evaluating whether withholding full benefits from them until age 69 (or, perhaps, later, if another “Deficit Reduction Commission” explains that further restrictions are the only way to proceed), furthers or undermines the public good.

In considering Social Security, policy makers and the public seem almost intent on averting their eyes from “the big picture” said Stephen Scheinthal, a geriatric psychiatrist who is associate director of the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine. “There’s an idea that, ‘We’re going to do this, we’re going to do this, and be damned with what the realities are.’ And the realities are significant.”

“There needs to be a way,” Scheinthal added, “to assess it beyond the finances.”

Read more from Remapping Debate here.

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