Has “normal retirement age” really changed?

Has “normal retirement age” really changed? September 26, 2016

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Social_security_card.gif; originally produced by the Social Security Administration and in the public domain

The other day I asked for reader opinions about the retirement age.  Both here and on my facebook page, what I learned is that my generation doesn’t really think of there being a “normal” retirement age at all.

But here’s something I’ve been thinking about.  The “official” Social Security Normal Retirement Age (SSNRA) is now age 66, and will be making its way to 67 before long.  But you wouldn’t know it from everything you see around you:

The Medicare eligibility age is 65.  In fact, you’re headed for trouble if you don’t start Medicare at age 65, even if you’re still working.

The SSI eligibility age is 65.  This means, in practice, that age 65 is the age at which you are eligible for welfare without a work requirement.  The “no work requirement” eligibility age for food stamps is even younger — age 60.

The earliest age at which you can begin benefits is 62, and did not move with the change in the SSNRA.

The latest age at which you can defer retirement and see a bump up in your benefit, is age 70, and did not move with the change to the SSNRA.

The government (BLS, census, DOL, etc.) still measures trends having to do with retirement with an “age 65” breakpoint (e.g., this recent report that the number of women working past the age of 65 has increased).

I’m sure readers could come up with other ways in which government agencies and private organizations still treat age 65 as the normative retirement age, and continued employment past that age as something unusual (as in the above article), and indicative of either poverty or, conversely, unusually good health.

All of which suggests that, despite the SSNRA increase to 67, we don’t really expect retirees to change their behavior, which further says that increasing the SSNRA to age 67 was really just a sneaky way of imposing a benefit cut.

After all, otherwise eligibility for Medicare and SSI would be keyed to the SSNRA, and the early and late retirement ages would move in tandem with the SSNRA, right?


Image:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Social_security_card.gif; originally produced by the Social Security Administration and in the public domain

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