Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Don't Raise the Eligibility Age for Medicare or Social Security!

Don't Raise the Retirement Age for Social Security and Medicare!    

*Update April 2015:  Actually, I'm not going to change one thing.  The whole issue is being raised again as Republicans have now taken over the Senate.  We do NOT NEED to raise the age for Social Security.  We need to raise the cap!
From woodsgateview.com   (This pic doesn't quite fit, but I love it.)

Gather around, those of you in  your 20's and 30's and 40's:  Let me tell you a story about life.

Way back in the 1980's, yes, way back when that guy Reagan was the President, they started telling us that there was a real crisis in Social Security.  "We're going to run out of Social Security for you yung'uns", they said, "unless we raise the age for retirement.  And we've got to boost the FICA payroll tax too!"

Well..  Did we protest?  Did we Occupy anything?  Did we write our CongressCritters?  Did we pile onto Facebook in great numbers to complain?  (Oops.. no Facebook back then, no Occupy back then ... but we did have CongressCritters, and we could write to them via a typewriter, an envelope, and a stamp.)  

No, we didn't.    

And why didn't we complain, protest, or take to our typewriters? I'll tell you why:

We were Strong, Young, and Healthy.

Many people had gotten new jobs, many people were benefiting from the fast advances in technology, and we were foolish enough to think that we could keep our strength, our youth, and those high paying jobs forever.  We were also plowing money into IRA's and 401K's, and companies were actually engaging in profit-sharing and stock programs. Many companies still offered pensions.  Why would we ever need Social Security, we thought?  A mere thousand or two a month?  Peanuts!  So... who cared?

Not only that, but some of us were foolish enough to think that the increasing standard of living would continue to.. increase!  We didn't see the caustic and deadly effects of offshoring, outsourcing, and rampant income and wealth inequality.  We didn't see the increasing greed on the part of mega-corporations and the uber-rich.  We watched the movie Wall Street and were disturbed by the Gordon Gekko character who espoused "Greed is Good".  We thought that we'd turned away from that.   

So... listen my children, and you will hear that many Baby Boomers, perhaps even your parents, have been hit hard by the recession.  

Some are among the saddest victims of this recession.  Some of these older people in their 50's and 60's have been tossed out of work after decades of fruitful labor.  Many are experiencing long-term unemployme­nt; many have gone through their savings and 401K's and don't have health insurance.   Even though the economy is picking up, somebody who is 62 and hasn't had a full time job for 2 or 3 years is going to be at the bottom of the heap when employers start adding staff.  How are these people, people 55 or 58 or 60 or 62 supposed to survive until they are 69 or 70?  It's tough now for people who are 59 to hold on until early social security at age 62. 

Those extra years until full retirement are weighing heavily on many of us. Retiring with full benefits at 65 is now just a dream, and a dream that we let drift away.

Again... listen my children:

Don't believe people who tell you that Social Security and Medicare won't be there for you.  We heard the same thing 30 years ago.

Realize that you will not be young and healthy forever and you can't see the future.  Realize that, even if you do manage to stash away a nice chunk of change, your neighbor, your friend, your cousin may not be so lucky.  He/she may really need that Social Security check or that Medicare.  We aren't a good or a strong country if we can't take care of our old and sick; if we can't take care of who are the least fortunate among us.  

But life expectancy has increased since Social Security was set up!  Shouldn't the retirement age go up as well? 

I really and truly hope that you, dear reader, aren't thinking this way.  If so, first of all, you need a lesson on life expectancy at birth and life expectancy at any given age.  I would suggest that you read right here to get that information.  Fundamentally, the life expectancy remaining for those who have managed to survive to age 65 has only increased 3 to 5 years (depending on sex and race) since Social Security was implemented, and about 2 to 3 years since Medicare was implemented.  And we have already used up two of those extra 3 to 5 Social Security years when the Social Security age was raised in the 80's.  More about life expectancy (with a chart) HERE.

Finally, remember that increased life expectancy for those who managed to survive into their 60's does not mean that they can work.  Many chronic disesases are now managed and people actually live, but they may not be able to work; they may be taking medications with serious side effects, even if they don't meet the criteria to be labeled "disabled".   

Remember also that there is no guarantee that life expectancy will continue to go up.  The harder we work, the more difficult our jobs are; the more stressed out we are, the less likely we will be to live those extra years.  I have also heard, but have not seen the statistics, that people who are poorer have a much lower life expectancy after attaining age 60 than people who are well off.  If that is true, that would mean that raising the retirement age would be a death sentence for people who are poorer:  Those among the working poor  would NEVER attain the new improved retirement age.

And let's be honest here:  Who is going to hire someone 65 or 66 for a responsible, high-level job?  If you lose your job at age 65 or 66, You will be struggling as a Walmart greeter until you can collect Social Security.

The Republicans have been talking and talking and talking about raising the age... Talking so much that people are starting to take it for granted.  If you repeat a story often enough, people accept it as the Truth or as a fait accomplis.  

We are a rich country, not a poor country. 

We've got people out there who earn millions and billions (Yes, there are people out there who earn a billion plus a year).  Don't buy this "we're going broke" business.  It's pure folly.  (And don't believe those billionaires earned every penny and are therefore somehow superior to you.)

Don't let them move your retirement age back.  Don't let them move back your age for Medicare eligibility.  You will regret it if you don't fight this now.

Update 12/4/2012:  I submitted this comment to susiemadrak.com on raising the Medicare eligibility age:

"Seniors themselves would end up spending $3.7 billion more as the benefits on the exchange would be less robust than those currently covered through Medicare. Employers would end up footing part of the bill, too, continuing to sponsor an additional two years of coverage." 
Another reason for employers to dump or refuse to employ people as they get older.  (Not to mention that many people in that 65-66 age bracket will simply not be able to afford insurance on the exchanges.)   
As it is, the employment participation rate of people 65-69 went down quite a bit after Medicare was implemented and as Social Security started to kick into high gear in the 60's and 70's.  It bottomed out in the mid 80's with only about 10% of people 65+ working. It stayed in the 11-12% range until the recession of 2000.  And then it started to go up and it has continued to go up even as the economy has improved.  It is now up to 17.5%, the highest it has been since 1964.  
When old people HAVE to work, something is really wrong.  This is NOT a good trend.  The number of people 65+ who are unemployed is now around 500,000, the largest number of unemployed people EVER in that age range, even as the number of unemployed people in other age ranges has decreased (though some of this is due to Baby Boomers passing into that 65+ age bracket.) 

Other articles about Social Security and Medicare:

Important Links and Recent News:


  1. Additional impacts that I don't hear anybody talking about include the unemployment rate, available jobs, and unemployment benefits paid, food stamps and more. There are many people in the 50-65 age bracket who would like to retire early but keep working just for the insurance. If the Medicare age was LOWERED to at least 55, then many people in that bracket could retire from full time jobs (with insurance). Some might take part time jobs to make ends meet until they collect SS. They could do this as long as they had Medicare.

    So... think about this... how many jobs/positions would be freed up for other people to fill? Yes, we would be paying more in Medicare, but we would have fewer "unemployed" which means less unemployment money being paid and possibly less food stamps and other assistance being needed. For people in their 50's to keep taking up employment spots simply because they need health insurance is not the best way for us to handle things. Countries that have national health care would not have this problem. I know there is something in Obamacare that addresses people at 55, but I have not read it and having to pay for insurance, even in an exchange, will not free as many people up to retire... it just forces many to keep working.

    This is a large pool of workers who would be able to retire and free up jobs if we give them the opportunity. It also helps society in that some would spend time volunteering and others might be more available to family members to help with child care. It takes a village, and there are more useful ways for 50-somethings to spend their time in society if they so choose. Let's make it easier for people 50-65 to retire! Don't cut Medicare... EXTEND it!

    1. You bring up many important points, unknown.

      I'm hoping that ObamaCares will also help to encourage people to retire if they are able to do so. It's not as comprehensive as Medicare, but many older people will be able to get affordable care without a job.. for the first time ever.

      Of course, I know so many people who are in their 50's and 60's who were tossed out of their jobs that I'm stunned that anybody in that age bracket still has a job with an employer that hasn't canned them.

      I did the math, though I haven't yet published my numbers, but the unemployment rate is at least .5% above what it would be if we hadn't raised the Social Security eligibility age in back in the 1980's. That's just that extra year (for now) for SS.

      I agree with you.. I'd like to see Medicare extended. But raising the eligibiliy age is just taking another giant step backwards.

    2. phuk just typed 300 word response,,but since i wasn't a phuking member, all was erased when i tried to publish....in a nutshell.......stop the corruption...and the un policed delving out of social security tax money.....there are 3rd generation welfare recipients .
      if you do not contribute to the tax base......you should have NOOOOOOOOO say (vote)in how the money is spent


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