In “Raising the Retirement Age: A Sneaky Way to Reduce Social Security Benefits” I write about how raising the eligibility age for Social Security is bad politics and bad policy. Employers wanting to hire from a larger labor pool and Republican hard-liners who support decreases in government spending have long-supported cutting Social Security. Recently, it’s been trumpeted as a prudent centrist policy. It’s not.
First the policy. Make no mistake, raising the retirement age is a cut in benefits. As it stands, the full retirement age is 70. If you start collecting benefits before 70, you receive a lower monthly payment for life. Raising the age at which Americans can start collecting benefits will likely push the benefit-maximizing age up to an unattainable level. In general, we should not expect Americans to work into their seventies.
Second the politics. Americans overwhelmingly don’t support benefit cuts. The Pew Research Center found that Americans are opposed to Social Security cuts by a margin of two-to-one. This preference persists among millennials, despite endless misinformation that Social Security will be gone by the time this cohort retires. Republicans have tried to re-brand a cut to Social Security as raising the retirement age. This is misleading at best. Raising the eligibility age for Social Security is a reduction in benefits.
We should be talking about strengthening and expanding Social Security, not weakening it.