Should we increase the age at which people become entitled to Medicare/SS?

Should we gradually increase the age at which you can receive your SS/Medicare benefits to, say, age 70 by, say, 2020? This is really general question, but it remains controversial. It seems like a good idea to me, but then I am only 43.


No. People are living a little longer but aren’t all that much healthier; you’d end up with a large number of people who are too old & sick to work but too young for SS.

As for Medicare, it or some equivalent should be universally available.

We’re going to have to increase the qualifying age for SS to keep it solvent. However, this is going to result in a lot of unemployed old people.

I’m 67 and still working full-time in an office job. At one point in the discussion, I thought it seemed like a reasonable idea to raise the age for Social Security, until someone pointed out that not everyone is working in offices where the main exercise is a trip to the vending machines. I don’t think you can expect people whose jobs involve physical labor to wait longer before they’re eligible. That said, I would quibble a bit about SSA’s definition of “full retirement age.” Right now, individuals may begin receiving SS benefits as early as age 62. The longer one postpones the beginning of benefits, the greater the monthly benefit amount, up until the age of 70. There’s a somewhat arbitrary point in that spectrum which is declared to be “full retirement age” where the benefit is said to be 100%. Those who opt to start early receive an amount that is less than 100%. Those who wait receive an amount greater than 100%. Perhaps instead of raising the earliest starting age, we should consider continuing to increase the monthly benefit for those who choose to wait beyond 70.

As for Medicare, I agree with Der Trihs that some equivalent should be universally available.

Totally agree with the second part.

But under our current (clearly defective) system we will be forced to either greatly increase payroll taxes, cut benefits, up the age requirements, or all three to keep Medicare and social security solvent.

Already, the inflation measure used to calculate SSI COLA increases has been changed to reduce them. Age requirements went up in the 1990’s and probably will again.

Getting taxes increased or using general funds is going to be an impossible sell in the House, I fear.

Old people vote more then young people, I can’t see them supporting a qualifying age increase over a tax increase.


Remove the revenue cap.

There’s also the issue that not everyone stays mentally sharp as they age; a few unlucky folks begin developing dementia in their late 60s. I’m fine with encouraging those folks who are still both mentally and physically fit to stay in the workforce longer, but I don’t think we should be forcing people to work until age 70. Not everyone’s going to be up to it, and there aren’t enough jobs anyway.

In the long run we increase taxes or see the government collapse. In which case, there won’t be any SS, Medicare, or anything else to worry about. Not that I consider that likely; I suspect the Republicans are reaching the end of their tether with their national-economic-suicide mania.

Yes, definitely. Life expectancy has increased considerably since SS was established. Increased eligibility ages should be one of many tweaks made to both programs.

And not just eligibility age. The disability system requires significant reform. Age 50 is “approaching advanced age” at which point being restricted to sedentary work is considered a significant vocational disadvantage? Not in this century.

Heck, I wonder if we even need to revisit the idea that people ought to be entitled to some type of life ending “vacation/retirement”, and if so, how long it should last andwho should pay how much. Remember, it hasn’t been even a century that most people expected som sort of public or private pension/retirement benefits.

I’m all for some type of public safety net. Just suggesting, the way it has been though our lifetimes isn’t the way it HAS to be.

Again; we are living a bit longer, but not in good health. Raising the age for SS benefits won’t make people any healthier; on the contrary, it’ll likely kill the old people you’ll be dumping on the street. And again, Medicare or an equivalent should be for everyone.

Yes, in this century. Companies don’t want to hire people that old.

Translation: Let the old die unless they are rich or have a family willing and able to support them. Put them on ice floes or something.

Neither can I, but they only have to do it once (and rewrite the Social Security Act to automatically adjust the qualifying age as actuarial tables are updated).

This would obviously be better.

No we won’t. The money raised by raising the retirement age is pretty small relative to other, less disruptive tweaks we could make. There isn’t really any good reason to raise the qualifying age.

Here’s a more indepth summary of why its a bad idea

Der trihs - and who is responsible for the poor health of all Americans? The big, bad food industry, or the folk shoving crap into their maws while getting no exercise?

Regarding SS disability, whether or not an individual would actually be hired to perform any specific job is irrelevant. If you have problems regarding hiring practices, you might want to look elsewhere than SS.

You might need a new babelfish for your translation. I said increased entitlement ages should be “one of many tweaks.” I’m all for universal healthcare, and means testing for SS retirement bens. But yeah, if you want to go with the ice floes, we’d better get going before global warming progresses much further.

Biology. Old people tend to be unhealthy.

Except that you are claiming that older people don’t need SS because they can just get jobs. That makes it relevant.

If you chuck them out on the street to die, whatever other “tweaks” you make won’t matter because they’ll be dead.

Of course we don’t chuck them out on the street to die. That’s the whole purpose of the death panels!

It’s not a matter of should, despite Der Trih’s ridiculous hyperbole. We won’t have any choice as the program will eventually become untenable. It will either be raise the age people get benefits or lower the benefits people get…possibly, both things, which would really suck.

I have no real issue with this, but I don’t think it’s politically feasible for a variety of reasons. If you remove the cap does that mean that The Rich paying in get more benefits though? There is a cap on the amount you collect from Social Security after all, so is it going to be a pay more get more, or just pay more and still be capped for on the benefits side?

Even if there is no cap on the amount you collect, making the change would still save SS money because above a certain point you are only getting 15% of your average monthly income per month from Social Security, which you’d have to live retired for 35 years to get back, which most people don’t.

Or we could increase pay-roll taxes…

The life of medicare was expanded by lifting the cap on the relevant payroll taxes during the Clinton Admin. So that hardly seems un-doable. Plus, I doubt cutting benefits without also increasing revenue is really politically do-able either.

For SS, totally liftiing the cap turns out to be a) be a pretty large tax increase and b) raise considerably more money then you actually need to balance the program. So merely raising it seems like a more likely and fair plan.

The plan I think is the most likely and fair is to use chained CPI to calculate inflation for the program (a benefit cut) and raising the cap so that it captures 90% of income (which is what it did when the tax was first created). This balances the program out to 60 years, and neither change is a particularly drastic change to the tax-code or the size of benefits.

SS probably won’t be untenable to fund with minor tweaks. It’s been done before.

Medicare is troublesome. Finding ways to keep health care costs in check is going to be a big deal, because we don’t want to cut benefits (directly or by raising age requirements) but also can’t come to a consensus on how or if to fund the program.

Increasing the age at which Medicare benefits pay out is kind of a troublesome option. It’s not a ‘minor’ tweak in any reasonable sense of the word ‘minor’.

The people who will most need to work longer aren’t the ones who have some kind of nest egg saved up but low wage employees who’ve done mostly physical labor all their lives. They’re the ones least likely to be able to work to 70 or beyond and most likely to need to stop working before 70.

It just shifts the money from SS and Medicare to unemployment assistance and Medicaid and just hoping it works out on the balance sheet somehow.

It’s also kind of missing the forest for the trees. It rather undermines the raison d’etre of those programs to continue changing age requirements until they don’t serve their original purpose anymore.